Judgment Delivered in Betway’s Defamation Suit
Judge Daniel Thulare of Western Cape High Court in Cape Town, has delivered his judgment, in a defamation case involving online gambling giant Betway, and a self-confessed problem gambler, Claude Gouws
Gouws had accused Raging River Trading, which trades as Betway South Africa 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.
Betway subsequently, filed a suit at the High Court, seeking to interdict and restrain Gouws from making the above defaming accusations against them.
Claude Gouws has been operating a betting account with Betway since July 2019, and on May 13, 2021, he was said to have made a request to Betway to increase a cashback or rebate offer received by him, from the business.
When his request was not met, he asked for closure of his account, with the betting company. However, after reviewing his request, 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 is said to have closed his account permanently, under self-exclusion and informed him about it.
This decision led Gouws to make series of complaints to the Western Cape Racing and Gambling Board (WCRGB) and the MEC for finance and economic opportunities, under whom the WCRGB falls.
Betway in presenting their case, said that 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 was reached between the parties, Gouws went ahead to keep complaining and making accusations against them. They presented the judge with evidence of emails of complaints written by Gouws after the settlement, which according to them were highly defamatory.
Betway further stated that having recognised that Gouws may be a compulsive gambler, they had referred him to organisations, where he could get help with his gambling.
However, Betway went on to argue that Gouws was “the author of his own misfortune” and that holding Betway responsible for his losses due to his gambling, was wrong.
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).
According to Greg Lowndes, the attorney for Betway; Judge Thulare was right in his decision to grant the interdict against Gouws, which will stop him from both directly and indirectly defaming Betway, South Africa and afford Betway the necessary protection called for.