Back in spring, Lincolnshire’s Andy Green hit the headlines in his bid to make an online gambling platform pay out on his £1.7m win. A couple of months later we join Andy to reflect on three years of high stakes and equally high emotions…
Andy Green is either the unluckiest lucky man or the luckiest unlucky man in the country. Either way, he’s a smashing one. In April this year, Andy won an extraordinary ‘David versus Goliath’ style fight as High Court judge Mrs Justice Foster delivered her verdict; that Andy did indeed deserve his win, three years previously, on an online gambling platform.
Two weeks later, Andy finally received the £1.7m he’d won on 26th January 2018. But this wasn’t simply a financial victory; it was a moral one. Born and raised in Lincoln, and living in Washingborough since 1997, Andy is still working for his engineering firm, and wanted his win to be acknowledged not just for his financial security, but for that of his two daughters.
“I don’t drink, don’t go on holidays abroad, my transport was my work van, so the occasional flutter is my only real vice. Even then I can go for months without going on a particular platform, but on this occasion, I was on the sofa, watching TV and half paying attention to my phone on the platform.”
Online platforms these days share games, so one game might appear on a number of bookies’ apps. Andy was enjoying a flutter on a blackjack-style game which, Andy says, has an element of luck, and skill, knowing when to up the stake, and when to walk away. It was about 9.30pm, and being the cautious sort, he staked a conservative £5.
“That £5 became £100, and then it jumped up to £600!” Andy recalls. “The premise of the game is that there are seven lucky horseshoes across the screen, and drawing a card with a blue corner lights up one of seven bonus horseshoes.”
“I staked £100, banked £500 and with the next hand my winnings were £10,600. With my fifth hand I reached £38,000, and so I banked £30,000 and staked £8,000. Two bonuses later and I’d turned £30,000 into £78,000.”
One final hand and with all of the bonuses achieved, Andy’s phone trembled in his hand and he confesses to shedding a few tears as the final amount appeared on his screen: £1,722,923.54.
“I was quite emotional, needless to say. I didn’t sleep that night and was still wide awake at six-o’clock the next morning,” he says.
“The amount was too large to withdraw from the app, so I had to phone up and speak to a member of the customer service team. I don’t think even he could believe it when he read the amount, and I was told that the VIP team would call me back a couple of hours later.”
“That call came and they congratulated me, asked for my bank details and advised that with such a large amount it would be prudent to spread the amount over several concurrent bank accounts. I spent the next few days setting up a few more accounts and supplied the details but still, two weeks later, I hadn’t received my winnings. And then the phone call came.”
The company called on 31st January to tell Andy that there had been a glitch in the game, and that his win was void. Unable to provide proof of the glitch, nor elaborate on its nature, other than to say that too many ‘blue corner’ cards had been given out by the game, the company instead made a ‘good-will gesture’ offer of £30,000 on 8th February which was upped to £60,000 a few days later, by way of a second offer – both with the condition of a non-disclosure agreement attached to them.
“I was heartbroken, absolutely gutted. I had dared to dream that it really was going to come to me. Now, the stress and the sense that I’d lost what was – fairly and squarely – mine was like a form of grief.”
Andy found an ally in Peter Coyle, of Amersham-based Coyle White Devine, a niche legal practice specialising in dispute resolution. Peter agreed to take on Andy’s case and so begun a number of texts and calls and emails between the companies, with no success.
“Taking on a company whose turnover in 2018/2019 was £10bn is not something that came easy, and when communication was going nowhere, there was only one option left; The High Court,” says Andy.
“Our first hearing in the court was set for later in 2018. A full hearing in the High Court typically takes four days, but the judge offered us what’s known as a green application – a one day preliminary hearing – which took place in October 2020.”
“It was a day of legal terminology and hard benches. I was exhausted at the end of the day. We had an idea that we’d been successful, but Justice Foster wanted time to consider the case so I had to return to Lincoln and just get on with life. We received word that the court had reached a conclusion and we were given a date to appear back at London’s High Court.”
“It was in a couple of weeks, early in April, and the announcement was due to take place at about two in the afternoon. But by the time we arrived at court, the announcement had already taken place.”
“It was quite a matter-of-fact statement, no longer than 30 seconds or so. The announcement stated that ‘the claimant succeeds in his application for summary judgement.’” It was made considerably more explicit than that, by my barrister. He phoned me up to say ‘Andy, you’re a millionaire!’ I was on my way to the court and when I turned on to Fleet Street, I couldn’t believe it. All of a sudden 50 – maybe more – journalists were suddenly surrounding me. Press, camera crews… it was like I was a rock star.”
It was still a further two weeks until Justice Foster determined the amount of interest that Andy would receive on top of his initial win.
“I do feel that it was a proper moral victory,” he says. “Peter actually said to me that faced with the offer the company made and the non-disclosure agreement, most would have accepted it – he even said that his wife would have made him accept the offer – and that he can’t believe how strong I was. There were times I didn’t feel it. Peter definitely saw me at my best and my worst, there were times I’d phone him up in tears. But I was determined not to give in.”
Three years on from his initial win and Andy is very upfront, talking openly about the experience, but he maintains that his interest was not the money but rather the sense of justice he feels. It’s telling that though his bank balance has swollen considerably and yet Andy has no plans to move home, travel abroad or spend money on status symbols.
“I’ve been a single parent since 2010 and there have been times I’ve gone without for my two daughters. I’ve always been careful with money and so I’ve ordered new double glazing but honestly that’s the only thing I really wanted, even when I saw the balance on my bank statement.”
“It’s security, for myself and for my daughters. If they need something, from now only, they’ll have it, and to be able to make that promise to them – just to be able to make sure they’re OK – is what the last three years have been all about.”