Last Friday saw the release of a special new SBC report on the topic of bookmaker restrictions – specifically in relation to the tracking that bookmakers undertake on their customers and what you need to know to combat this.
Now whilst this report is for SBC members eyes only, I did want to talk about one point raised within it connected to the profiling of customers by bookmakers and the use of odds comparison websites.
One very simple way in which bookmakers can profile you is in relation to the links you click on that direct them to their website.
Sometimes this is a bookmakers way of paying those referral websites and social media accounts a percentage share of the losses you might make if you open an account (an article for another day!) or simply as a way of tracking the type of punter you are.
This is important because as we learnt from the leaked document referenced in this article from 2019, when one bookmaker got wind of customers using the odds comparison website – Oddschecker, then such betting accounts were stake factored by 55%.
Effectively ensuring these customers would only be able to get on 45% of the maximum stake allowed on any bet.
Why restrict customers who use Oddschecker?
Oddschecker are a major player in the odds comparison world. It is a free website which compares the very latest odds from a large number of bookmakers so as to highlight where best to place your bet.
Bookmakers dislike this though as the simple fact you are using an odds comparison service immediately sets you out as shrewder than most and someone who understands the need for value when betting.
I.e. You won’t just take the first odds you see as you want the best price for your bet.
You want 4/1 instead of 7/2 or 10/1 instead of 8/1…differences in odds that matter if your bet wins.
Bookies also hate it as it means you are not a ‘brand loyal’ customer – AKA the type of punter who is too lazy or short-sighted to bet with anyone but the same firm.
The type of bad bettor all bookies love and as this article revealed – those that might be termed VIPs and able to get up to 5X max stakes on any bet they want.
Don’t Show Your Hand
What this means in practical terms is that you have to be very wary of showing your hand as an Oddschecker user.
This means avoiding clicking any links that take you directly from Oddschecker to a bookmaker as that is one very simple way your usage of their website could be tracked.
Oddschecker make it very easy to click on a bet you want and to either be taken straight to the bookmakers website OR to place it through Oddschecker’s own bet slip functionality (which allows you to stay on the Oddschecker site and place your bets in seconds).
As convenient as this might well be (and it is very convenient) the downsides are that you immediately are showing your hand to a bookmaker that you are shrewder than most!
It also might mean your bookmaker account is then stake factored down as a consequence.
A Conflict of Interest?
It isn’t Oddschecker’s fault that customers who use their website are tagged as shrewd, as this is more a function of the advantage it offers bettors who use their odds comparison service.
I am sure if SBC used bookmaker direct affiliate links (which we don’t) then it could be something you might find yourself restricted by.
“Hey Dave, this customer joined us via the Smart Betting Club – we need to watch out for him. Restrict him to 0.05% of max stakes straight away!”
Yet it is worth being aware of the fact that Oddschecker are now part of the Flutter Entertainment group, which following a series of mergers and acquisitions now includes the likes of Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook/Exchange & Skybet in its midst.
It is a veritable behemoth of a company and Flutter effectively owns a group of bookmakers and betting companies that simply put – have no vestige in hosting profitable bettors if at all possible.
Why would they?
The more winning customers they have, the less a bookmaker makes. You win, they lose and its something that are at pains to avoid.
Because as they never tire of telling us – all bookmakers reserve the right to choose which customers can bet with them. If they find a customer to be unprofitable (i.e. a winner), it is within their current rights to close your account or limit the size stakes you can get on.
Skybet’s ex-CEO Richard Flint made the policy of restrictions abundantly clear in this interview he undertook in October 2018 and to quote directly “We restrict customers if we think that we are going to lose money to them in the long-run”.
So, whilst Oddschecker are offering to compare the odds free or charge and to in turn help shrewd bettors take better prices – this seems to be in conflict with the goals of other bookmakers within the Flutter Entertainment Group such as Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook & Skybet. All of whom restrict and close winning bettors – no doubt a group including many of the shrewd bettors who themselves use Oddschecker.
Is Information Being Shared?
It also begs the question – Is information on the profile of customers shared amongst the bookmaking companies within Flutter such as Paddy Power, Betfair & Skybet?
If so, this might be one simple way to profile customers and to weed out those more profitable than not.
I might be barking up the wrong tree entirely and I welcome feedback from Oddschecker or Flutter to clarify these points, yet from my point of view, it does look like there is a potential issue here.
Oddschecker state on their homepage that “We give you, the user, the power and control to find the best bet for you.”
Yet at the same time they are part of a bigger company with reasons and incentives to limit shrewd bettors – those who do take the time to find the best price for a bet.
Hence why it would be good to know if and how information is being shared amongst those companies within the Flutter group.
Use Them Wisely!
It seems clear that as they have grown – Oddschecker, just like Betfair, have veered from their initial humble punter-focused origins as they have been swallowed up by bigger companies putting profit front and centre.
Betfair, lest we forget were once first and foremost a betting exchange, yet these days they are keener to push their sportsbook offering as presumably it is this side of their business that offers more profit potential. The betting exchange invariably appears more of an afterthought these days.
So whilst Oddschecker remains a great resource (as does the Betfair exchange) and I thoroughly recommend utilising their service, it is one I suggest you need to use with care.
To that end, I would advocate not clicking any direct referral links to bookmakers and certainly not using the bet placement facility they offer. By all means use their odds comparison matrix, but do so with caution and mindful of the points raised in this email.
Ladbrokes, Coral Exit Oddschecker
As I wrote this article earlier this week, Oddschecker hit the betting news following the announcement that GVC Holdings – the company that owns Ladbrokes, Coral & Betdaq had failed to agree a deal to continue to be listed on the Oddschecker site.
Whether this is down to the fees Oddschecker charge to feature in their odds matrix, price negotiating tactics or simply the fact that GVC find too many customers who come via Oddschecker are unprofitable remains to be seen. Certainly it is a blow for Oddschecker and for those (few) shrewd punters that can still use either or Ladbrokes or Coral to place their bets.
Whatever the reasons, it is an interesting development and only time will tell how this all pans out. Will we see more firms leave Oddschecker? Or might Ladbrokes/Coral come crawling back in the future?
Learn More On Bookmakers
To learn more on how bookmakers operate, including access to SBC’s latest report on bookmaker profiling and our dedicated section to bookmaker restrictions you might like to consider a Smart Betting Club membership.
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Smart Betting Club Editor
If you have any questions on this article or a Smart Betting Club membership in general, you can contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org. I respond to all emails as quickly as I can!