On Sunday the findings from our recent survey on bookmaker account restrictions and closures were the topic of debate on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Featured, as part of the ‘5 Live Investigates’ show, it sought to seek answers as to why bookmakers are refusing to do business with customers who don’t fall into the category of ‘mug-punter’.
You can listen to it via this link from the 47 minute marker.
Our survey found that, of 6575 bookmaker accounts, 4654 (70.78%) of them were either restricted or closed. The full results of which you can read in our freely available ‘Getting On’ Report, which you can access via our Better Betting Campaign.
The BBC was able to do something that no-one else has done before- they got the Bookmakers to talk!
So, you may wonder, why are they restricting and closing thousands of accounts?
Let’s looks at some of the most intriguing reasons……
Boylesports Limits Due To Fraud!
Perhaps the most interesting statement came from Boylesports who told the BBC that:
“Only a very small percentage of its customers are restricted or had their accounts closed and often when they suspected fraudulent activity”
Boylesports, lest we forget, were found to be the absolute worst bookmaker for this practice, with only 10.8% of those we surveyed able to bet without restriction or closure.
Why then, do they continue to claim that the main reason they impact accounts are when they suspect fraudulent activity?
Are they really claiming that the 89.2% of punters affected by restrictions and closures in our survey are ‘’often’’ committing fraud?
I suppose it’s also a major coincidence that the majority of these punters are also fairly shrewd and might, just might, make money from their betting.
On the face of it – the fraud line is a convenient excuse as they can simply hide behind the ‘we can’t discuss individual accounts’ line – yet, in reality, it would be a huge stretch of imagination to envisage that each of the 89.2% of punters unable to bet with Boylesports is due to fraudulent activity.
Paddy Power & Skybet DIS-Information
Paddy Power and Skybet took a different angle and trotted out another time-worn excuse – that of ‘insider information’. Here is what they were quoted as saying:
“It had to manage financial risk and that a number of checks and restrictions were put in place to prevent certain bets being made such as those using inside information”
“Fewer than 2% of their customers were restricted – which are made primarily on accounts that abuse promotional offers or to protect against insider trading”
The problem with insider information is that, by its very nature, it’s used by only a very small number of people. Indeed, perhaps only a dozen or so people might, at any point in time, have genuinely bonafide insider info that can help them make money betting.
I certainly don’t know anyone who uses ‘insider info’ to make money betting and I regularly deal with a lot of very shrewd punters.
According to Skybet and Paddy Power, however, this seems to be a major problem for them.
So, is insider information really the main reason why 67.4% of all Skybet customers (who took our survey) have been restricted or closed?
And the same for the 73% of Paddy Power customers we surveyed?
Clearly, it isn’t.
Paddy Power and Skybet need to do better than to try and hide behind such a flimsy excuse.
Why Aren’t Bookies Willing To Speak Honestly?
It was no surprise to hear some of the lines trotted out.
When it comes to restrictions and closures the bookmakers seem to have ZERO interest in discussing it openly and honestly.
They want to do all they can to undermine surveys like ours and those that the Horseracing Bettors Forum ran earlier this year (which identified very similar issues). We saw that with some of the other bookmaker statements released to the BBC.
After all – If the truth is exposed that those who are good at betting run a very real risk of being closed down then would people bet as much in the first place? Perhaps not!
As Simon Rowlands stated in the BBC 5 Live show – betting is aspirational and people do it in the hope of being successful and winning money.
Recent Smart Betting Club Publications (Click each image to read more!)
So What Can You Do? Here’s What:
Here at SBC we have long been aware that engaging with bookmakers on this issue is a dead-end and, instead, are proposing a different approach to moving this topic forward.
Firstly, inside the Getting On Report, you can find advice on how you can demand action from your MP and an investigation into bookmaker restrictions and closures from the UK government.
You can also discover how you can complain to the Information Commissioners Office about the usage of hidden bookmaker tracking software and demand they investigate further.
We are also encouraging as many people as possible to contact the Gambling Commission on this issue as they are currently inviting people to do so on the betting topics that matter to them. It’s part of a new two-way conversation they are holding with consumers. Page 6 of their listening plan (download PDF) encourages you to write to or email them via firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have to stand together on this, as always, there’s power in numbers.
The more that people raise these issues, with the 3 aforementioned organisations and others, the more chance we have of action being taken in the future on this front.
Real Progress On One Part Of The Better Betting Campaign
You can read more about the issue of betting restrictions and closures via our Better Betting Campaign.
This campaign also highlights other issues that we want to see tackled including that of the increase in disputed payouts and delayed withdrawals.
We were very encouraged by the statements made by the Gambling Commission, on the BBC radio show, regarding this issue which suggests change is coming.
The Gambling Commission’s chief executive, Sarah Harrison, stated that she felt that there were strong question marks as to whether the current terms and conditions overseen by bookmakers were fair and clear. In her opinion, bookmaker terms are overly long and complex and she feels that the pendulum has swung too far in favour of the operator.
Let’s hope we see some firm action on this front from the Gambling Commission before too long!
Find Out More…
You can find out more about our survey on restrictions and closures and a lot more besides via our Better Betting Campaign page, a central resource to drive awareness on various key issues.
Our aim is to help punters, like yourself, to take action and to provide you with practical, expert advice which will allow you to get your bets on.
Smart Betting Club Editor