Australian Gambler Who Swindled Online Sportsbook Out of AU$108,000 Avoids Prison

  • Sang Ill Lee found a POLi payments system loophole when adding funds to a sportsbook
  • Lee was able to cancel POLi transactions after his PlayUp balance was already updated
  • He admitted that he was a gambling addict and had debts of about AU$3m
  • The judge issued an intensive corrections order for 18 months to be served in the community
Piggy bank clouds coming out of a smartphone
An Australian gambler has avoided prison time after swindling AU$108,000 (US$67,917) from PlayUp using a deposit loophole. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Deposit loophole

A gambler in Australia who swindled AU$108,000 (US$67,917) from online sportsbook PlayUp has avoided prison time. Police arrested Sang Ill Lee in August after the uncovering of the scam. He subsequently pleaded guilty in a New South Wales (NSW) court to a single count of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage.

a loophole through the POLi payment gateway

In terms of the scheme itself, the 29-year-old made deposits of up to AU$30,000 (US$18,866) a dozen times to his PlayUp account during May and June. He had discovered a loophole through the POLi payment gateway that meant he was able to cancel other transactions after the money was already counted in his sportsbook account balance.

The scam

The POLi payments to the sportsbook do not process in real-time, but the account balance gets updated instantly so people can begin betting with no delay. Therefore, until the payments fully process, online gamblers are effectively gambling on credit. In this case, PlayUp only received the money through POLi for three of the 12 payments, but Lee was still able to bet with all of the funds.

struggling with a gambling addiction

Following his arrest, Lee admitted his guilt, detailing how he carried out the scheme with other online sportsbooks, too. Explaining why he stole the money, Lee admitted that he was struggling with a gambling addiction and that he owed nearly AU$3m (US$1.9m), to loan sharks, friends, and family. He was constantly living in a state of stress due to these massive debts.

Trying to make amends

Since his arrest, Lee has been attempting to get help for his gambling addiction and has been in touch with the defrauded online sportsbooks about repaying the money. Magistrate Judge Alexander Mijovich ended up giving Lee an intensive corrections order for 18 months. He will be able to carry out the term in the community, rather than behind bars. He also needs to perform 200 hours of community service, pay AU$108,000 (US$67,917) back to PlayUp, and avoid all types of gambling.

PlayUp is one of the newer online sportsbooks to hit the market in Australia. In addition to its sports betting offering, PlayUp is also the biggest provider of daily fantasy sports contests in the country.

While land-based casinos in Australia are not able to allow patrons to gamble on credit, no such rule exists for using credit cards or e-wallets to deposit money. However, there has been a recommendation from a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services to ban the likes of credit card and e-wallet payments to online gambling sites.