Grand National Threat

Claims that organised criminals will launch a flood of electronic attacks on the websites of some of the most popular British Bookmakers around Grand National weekend are wide of the mark, the UK National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) said on Wednesday.

With the Grand National nearly upon us, it's been reported in some UK papers that criminal gangs based as far away as Russia have threatened bookmakers with severe disruption.

Threats to UK Punters Grand National Bets

Threats have been made that customers will be prevented from placing free bets on the Grand National unless the companies concerned hand over large sums of money, it was claimed.

But according to an NHTCU spokeswoman, which has been investigating general threats since last autumn, this is not the case with publications guilty of "blowing the issue sky-high".

"We've received no intelligence about UK betting sites being targeted ahead of any sporting events. The only time this has happened in the past was when the Super Bowl took place".

She confirmed that bookmakers had received a number of general threats in the past from people claiming that they would disrupt Web operations unless money was handed over, and that the NHTCU has been working with them to address the issue.

Reassuringly "Rather than paying up, the online betting industry is taking a robust stance," added the NHTCU spokeswoman.

A number of websites suffered distributed denial-of-service attacks ahead of January's Super Bowl, and it's been reported that some UK companies were targeted during Cheltenham festival.

One industry source has suggested that bookmakers themselves are keen to talk up the level of threat they are facing, as a way of making their customers aware of the possibility of disruptions.