fraudster loses case against CentreBet
A Norwegian gambler who was suing an Australian
online gaming company for his gambling losses has lost his case in the
Australian Northern Territory Supreme Court.
Bjarte Baasland became
famous in Norway in connection with the Baasland case in the autumn of 2008,
when it was revealed that he had gambled away almost NOK 60 million (more than
7 million) that he borrowed from family friends and banks. Baasland was
convicted of fraud and sentenced to 4 years in prison and to return NOK 26,6
million to one of his creditors,
In 2009, Bjarte Baasland filed a claim for damages against Centrebet,
after he lost more than A$15 million betting on internet gambling sites,
including the Centrebet site.
Centrebet is a gaming company registered in the Northern Territory
that was acquired by Sportingbet Australia in 2011.
Mr Baasland said
Centrebet was negligent in allowing him to gamble the money.
the Supreme Court of Norway ruled it had jurisdiction to hear the matter
because gambling on Centrebet was available in Norwegian currency. But Justice
Graham Hiley has ruled Centrebet did not owe Mr Baasland any money and that
Australian law prevailed. Mr Baasland also has to pay Centrebet's
The background to the case is fascinating, particularly because
it involved two different international legal jurisdictions.
made his claim for damages against two internet gambling sites, Bet365 and
Centrebet, four years ago in a Norwegian court. By then he had lost more than
70 million Norwegian kroner, or about $15 million, in online bets
money had been borrowed from family and friends, and Mr Baasland disguised the
losses by saying he had made bad investments on dot.com start-ups. The scandal
made headlines in Norway.
Mr Baasland is the son of a former Bishop in
the Church of Norway, who was forced to resign when the case became public. The
family went bankrupt and his mother, who had borrowed money from friends, was
also accused of fraud. Baasland fooled mainly his mother to lend him money for
business projects. She borrowed money from banks, her husband, and her close
friend Cecilie Nustad.
Mr Baasland claimed that he was a gambling addict
and Centrebet should have stopped him from accessing the site, and not enticed
him to bet larger amounts.
Centrebet argued that Norwegian courts did
not have jurisdiction over the case, but the Supreme Court of Norway ruled in
2010 that it did have the right to hear the case. Whilst Centrebet has no
office in the country, it has a Norwegian bank account, home-page and toll-free
telephone number and gamblers can use Norwegian currency to bet on Norwegian
Centrebet is registered in the Northern Territory, and
is now owned by William Hill.
In the Northern Territory Supreme Court,
Centrebet's lawyer argued that Australian law should prevail. Alistair Wyvill
SC said Mr Baasland had breached Centrebet's online terms and conditions. To
place a bet, punters must agree that they are gambling with their own
But Centrebet argued that because Mr Baasland had borrowed the
money and disguised how he was spending it, the company was not liable for his
losses. It said the company would have stopped Mr Baasland from gambling had it
known it wasn't his money.