Judgment in Betway’s defamation suit against self-confessed problem gambler

Western Cape High Court Judge Daniel Thulare has handed down his judgment in a case where online gambling giant Betway sought to interdictand restrain self-confessed problem gambler Claude Gouws from making a number of accusations against them.

Gouws had accused them of (a) causing youth and others to become compulsive gamblers and addicts; (b) refusing to uphold responsible gambling; (c) committing crime; and (d) participating in corruption and making payment to government officials. In his judgment, Judge Thulare granted urgent relief as regards (c) and (d) above only, and provided reasons for his ruling following the filing of a written request by Betway.

Judge Thulare said he saw the dispute as “a matter of national importance” and queried whether Betway conducted business in the manner in which Gouws said they did, and whether it gave rise to addictions such as Gouws’s and in the youth and others.

The judge said such questions would have to be answered to determine defamation as claimed by Betway. He said in his view the arguments did not justify such an order and that was why he did not grant (a) and (b) as set out above, but granted (c) and (d). Gouws had a betting account with Betway and on May 13, 2021, he requested that a cashback or rebate offer received by him be increased. When his request was rejected, he requested closure of the account.

Claude Gouws

On review, however, Betway made an adjusted offer to Gouws, with the aim of offering him an improved betting experience. Gouws accepted the offer and his account was reopened. However, after Betway declined a request on August 3, 2021, Gouws told them about his gambling problem. After this confession, Betway permanently closed his account for self-exclusion and told him about it. This led to Gouws complaining to the Western Cape Racing and Gambling Board (WCRGB) and the MEC for finance and economic opportunities, under whom the WCRGB falls.

Presenting their case, Betway said they had previously reached an agreement with Gouws under which they had paid him R150 000 on the understanding that he would withdraw any and all complaints he had lodged against them with the WCRGB and the MEC. Betway said that even after this settlement had been reached, Gouws had continued to complain about them, and they presented the judge with evidence of emails of complaint he had written, which they said were “highly defamatory”.

Betway said that while they recognised Gouws may be a compulsive gambler, they had referred him to organisations where he could get help with his gambling. However, they argued that he was “the author of his own misfortune” and holding Betway responsible for his losses due to gambling was wrong.

Attorney for Betway Greg Lowndes said Judge Thulare correctly granted the interdict against Gouws, stopping him from both directly and indirectly defaming Betway South Africa.

“Judge Thulare’s decision to finally interdict Mr Gouws has afforded Betway the necessary protection called for,” – he said.

Source: iol.co.za

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