Why So Many Punters Are Using VPN’s For Betting


Bookmakers were in the news again this week for all the wrong reasons as The Times Newspaper ran two articles raising accusations of intrusive surveillance and the breaking of data protection legislation.

For those of you with a Times subscription, you can read the articles here and here

Whilst these stories wouldn’t have been news to many of you (after all, I have been banging on about these issues for some time via the Better Betting Campaign), it is encouraging to see the national media expose this issue for once.

The growing issue of bookmaker profiling also feeds into why so many punters are now using VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) to help protect their identity, especially those suffering from account closures or stake restrictions.

After all, 20.1% of you admitted to specifically using VPN’s to avoid this very problem in our recent restrictions and closures survey (As outlined on page 16 of our Getting On Report – download the PDF from this page)

But what are VPN’s, how can they help your betting, how much do they cost and how can you go about getting started with them?

Well as luck would have it, the Secret Betting Club just published an updated VPN for Betting Guide, which helps to answer many of these questions and more.

Here is a quick rundown on some of the key VPN points to be aware of…

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What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an incredibly powerful but simple to use piece of software that can be installed on most computers and mobile phones.

The use of a VPN effectively allows you to use a different IP address to the one you have at home or via your mobile device.  It is your ‘normal’ IP address that the bookmakers use to help build up their profile of you.

Think of an IP address as a sort of unique identifier to who you are and where you are located. By changing your IP address thorough using a VPN, you are that much harder to track and profile.

Why do you need a VPN when betting?

A VPN is an essential tool to help protect your location from bookmakers, especially if you are looking to use a new set of bookmaker accounts for betting purposes.

The classic example is whereby you have seen existing bookmaker accounts closed for winning too much money and you want to use a new or different account.

If you were to simply access that new account using the same IP address (effectively the same internet ‘address’ or connection) most bookmakers will quickly link the old and new account and it would be shut down very quickly indeed.

Therefore, one quick and easy way to work around such unfair restrictions and limitations is to always access this new account via a VPN, which ensures your IP address is completely different.

The logic here is that there is no IP address link between the new and old accounts.

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How easy is it to use a VPN and how much do they cost?

These days it is extremely simple to install and use a VPN.  So simple in fact, that you could be using one within a few minutes of reading this article.

The cost of VPN’s has also dropped significantly in line with their increasing usage. For example, the VPN I currently recommend to SBC members costs just $6.95 per month or $39.95 per year.

But is a VPN enough to ‘cover your tracks’? Surely, given the depths of bookmaker profiling you need to do more?

Although a VPN is an important weapon in your betting armoury, given the depth of profiling currently undertaken by bookmakers, there are a few other things to be aware of.

Bookmakers track a lot more than just IP addresses nowadays and whilst its vitally important to use a VPN, it is not all you need to do.

If wishing to use ‘new accounts’, you also need to make sure there are no other links or clues to previously held bookmaker accounts. This might mean using a new computer/phone or through a simple re-installation of your PC.

One simple technique many punters employ is to use their phone for one set of accounts and computer or tablet for a second set.

There is also plenty more in detail explanation on other tactics you need to employ in our VPN Betting Guide (details about next).

You may also wish to follow the instructions provided by Justice 4 Punters in our free ‘Getting On’ Report on how to remove some of the current ‘hidden’ bookmaker tracking software being used these days.

More Help With VPN’s

Hopefully this article has helped to explain a little bit more on VPN’s and why so many punters are opting to use them when betting.

If interested in understanding this issue in more depth, make sure you pick up a copy of the Secret Betting Club’s ‘VPN for Betting Guide’, which was re-released last month.

Inside this guide, you can read more on VPN’s from our resident betting tech expert, including a comparison of the best VPN’s for you to use from a punting perspective and my own personal recommendation.

It’s available to download the instant you join the Secret Betting Club.

Sign-up for a Secret Betting Club Membership Now!

Secret Betting Club

Unfair Bookmakers – Tell The CMA How They’ve Impacted You.

 

Betting made the headlines today with the very welcome news that the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) are opening an investigation into unfair bookmaker practice. Here is how the BBC covered the story.

This represents a huge step forward for our Better Betting Campaign and major credit must go to Brian Chappell from the Justice4Punters group, who has been quoted extensively in the media today. As well as being a major contributor to our campaign, Brian has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of unfair bookmaker practice.

The CMA has the power to make sweeping changes from ensuring bookmakers adhere to fair terms and conditions, through to compelling them to take bets from all punters. This latter point is perhaps more unlikely, yet if enough people raise it with the CMA, it could possibly be something they might like to scrutinise further.

You can read the full CMA case on their investigation here – and they are inviting those of you with an experience to share to get in touch with them. Here is how you can contact them:

“We would like to hear from you if you have experience of these issues. Please contact us at Gambling@cma.gsi.gov.uk and state clearly in the subject line of your email whether the information relates to sign-up promotions, altered odds or cancelled bets, or terms that restrict the ability to claim.”

All told, today’s news is a very positive move forward for punters everywhere and we welcome the investigation.

Find Out More About Unfair Bookmaker Practice

You can find out more about some of the issues raised by unfair bookmaker practice via SBC’s Better Betting Campaign.

This includes a free downloadable report, entitled ‘Getting On’, which includes the results of a recent survey on bookmaker restrictions, advice from Brian Chappell on removing bookmaker tracking software and an interview with Simon Rowlands of the punter-focused, Horseracing Bettors Forum.

Peter Ling
Secret Betting Club Editor

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Our Response To BBC Radio 5 Live’s Betting Restrictions Show

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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.
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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:

Paddy Power:

“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”

Skybet:

 “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 Secret Betting Club Publications (Click each image to read more!)

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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 consumers@gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

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.

Peter Ling
Secret Betting Club Editor

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An Insider Speaks – How To Avoid Bookie Restrictions

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Through our new Better Betting Campaign we have been highlighting some of the unfair practices bookmakers currently employ – including that of restricting and closing your betting accounts.

Therefore, it makes sense that many of you might well be wondering –

How exactly can you get your bets on in today’s modern betting world?

And

What advice can the Secret Betting Club provide to help you do this?

Well, the good news is that there are solutions at hand and ways and means to go ‘undercover’ with the bookies and either fool them into thinking you are a ‘mug punter’ or bet in such a way that they welcome your business.

As part of our quest to share some of this insight with you, in Part 4 of our recently released ‘Getting On’ Report, we featured an article written by a ‘bookie insider’ on just this topic.

He has spent years working on both sides of the betting fence so is uniquely positioned to offer advice about how to get your bets on.

His approach is all about ensuring your account is coded as ‘safe’ in its infancy and following certain strategies to fool the bookies into thinking you don’t know what you are doing. Even though you do!

Below, you can read his full article below and just a few of his tips about ‘Getting On’…

An Insider Speaks – How To Avoid Unwanted Bookie Interest!

“From the point of view of someone who has been on both sides of the fence over the last 15 years or so, it’s best to view the battle between shrewd punters who want to maintain winning accounts and the bookies who want to shut them down as a game of cat-and-mouse.

Bookies have moved well beyond analysing the behaviour of their customers in an attempt to restrict those who will beat them, into employing increasingly smart technology to catch those who discover loopholes and cover their tracks.

Tracking software has become ubiquitous with all major bookies – the likes of iesnare and iovation have been the subject of huge controversy as the grey area of customers’ privacy is challenged. But avoiding these legally-dubious methods is just the first step to take when engaging in the battle of smarts and wills with the online bookmaker.

So before a punter even considers opening an account on any platform, an essential pre-requisite is to use a fresh device for each new set of accounts. There’s no point going to the effort of persuading a friend to furnish you with their bank details only for a firm’s spyware to link you to a restricted account before you even place a bet. Game over.

Once anonymity is ensured, though, there are ways by which ‘unwelcome’ punters can keep under the radar of the bookies’ account-coding teams.

These teams work hand-in-hand with the liabilities department, examining each bet that meets certain criteria, such as those which are due to return more than a certain amount, those from punters who are already being monitored, or those on specific events or niche markets where the firm in question might be vulnerable to savvy customers.

One approach is to try to avoid being ‘coded’ at all – to escape the attention of the hawk-eyed account restrictors by staying under the radar with small bets in the hope of not being noticed. This is possible but it’s tougher than ever to pull off – if your betting patterns are shrewd you’re likely to get noticed at some point and then it’s back to square one.

Another method, and the one we’re focused on here, is to actively try and get marked up early as a ‘safe’ account, one in which the betting patterns suggest it’s operated by a typical losing punter.

This involves pre-empting the marking of the account by making it look as though the account will be a winning one for the bookie, one likely to consistently lose money over the long-term.

These accounts will tend to have a less rigorous filter applied to them, meaning that for bets to appear on the liability team’s screens they have to be at or close to the market’s maximum stake, or that the event is being subject to particular scrutiny (in which case all bets on that event will be flagged up).

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To get an idea of how to go about this, try putting yourself in the bookie’s shoes – if you were charged with coding accounts as good or bad for business, what would you do?The customers that firms like the best are those who lose consistently and reliably, whether involving big or small amounts. Punters like this who lose small (probably 95 per cent of a firm’s active clients) rarely appear on the coders’ radar as the system filters their bets out as irrelevant – they’ll generally be small non-price-sensitive stakes on big markets, or multiples thereof.

To come to a coder’s attention if you have a young account generally would require an account to feature bets on small markets or niche events with bets close to the maximum stake allowed. If you open an account and your first bet is a large one at a stand-out price on, say, a speedway event, it’ll raise a red flag.

If, on the other hand, it’s Sunderland to beat Chelsea 6-2 or a goalscorer accumulator across a few live games, your bets will either be passed over or you’ll be considered a ‘safe’ punter and put under consideration to have your staking limits increased by 20 or 50 per cent.

Consider opening your account and making your first wagers at a busy time for the firm – the afternoon of the opening day at Aintree or Cheltenham will guarantee your first few bets will sneak through unnoticed. Together with a sign-up offer, a few doubles or trebles on horses close to best price will fit in with the profile of a typical punter, all while giving an expected return of close to 100 per cent of your outlay.

Bookies don’t like serial bonus (ab)users but they’re generally happy to oblige customers who they feel will be long-term losers, so free bets can generally be incorporated into the ‘churn’ of a new account, lowering the cost of getting the account into respectable shape.

After a few neutral bets on high-profile races or football games, consider a couple of spins of the roulette wheel or engage the ‘cash out’ feature. Most shrewd punters will run a mile from these gimmicks, which take margin from you at both ends of the bet, but that’s the point – these are the kind of customers they’re looking for.

Likewise, in-play football and tennis betting, where the odds are generated automatically and at high margins, are good markets to throw a bookie off the scent, as are ‘virtual’ markets, which have a casino-style house edge built in.

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Unfortunately this strategy will almost inevitably entail losing money for the first few bets but smart punters have to consider the long game – with the bigger picture in mind this should be considered a sacrifice worth taking.

Only once your account reflects the behaviour of a casual punter should you try to draw attention to it by striking bets that will get you noticed by those monitoring the bet streams. ‘Mug’ bets on any sport but particularly football accumulators or side markets at below top price should be considered.

If an account marker likes what he sees, he might deem your account ‘safe’, increase your staking limits and hopefully enable you to fly under the radar if you manage your account carefully. This involves generally avoiding hitting maximum stakes (75% or less of the limit is a good guide – anything higher will attract the attention of the liabilities department) and steering clear of niche sports and small, illiquid markets which could attract the attention of compilers as well as liability managers.

Remember, you’re trying to strike a balance between persuading a trained operative that you’ll be a consistent loser in future, without losing too much money while doing so. It’s not easy but it can be relatively cheap if you stick to big prices (which should in reality be far bigger) which will have lower maximum stake limits and therefore trigger the bookie’s monitoring systems without having to risk a lot of money.

If this approach is successful and your account has been deemed ‘safe’, it will be monitored more loosely, allowing bigger stakes and hopefully increasing its lifespan. Care still needs to be taken of course, but if your limits are raised and your bet doesn’t automatically pop up on a liability manager’s screen, that’s half the battle won.

So in summary, the main advice would be:

  • Avoid drawing attention to your account in the first few days; bet like they want you to bet for your first couple of dozen or so wagers.
  • Use the firm’s gaming app a few times and cash out a few bets; play in-running sports markets and the occasional virtual race.
  • Once you’re happy your account history looks like that of a losing punter or chancer, bet to get noticed, ideally avoiding busy times so they can get a good look at your apparent ineptitude.
  • This means hitting maximum stakes on poor value bets (ideally at big prices, to limit losses), which will appear on the liability screens, meaning your account will be examined.

If the employee monitoring the liability screens likes what he sees and is in a good mood, he may loosen the restrictions on your account and help your account stay under the radar, increasing its lifespan.

Read More In Our Free ‘Getting On’ Report

If you enjoyed this article, you can also read a further 5 interviews with professional punters on just how they get their bets on via our Free ‘Getting On’ Report.

It’s freely available to distribute and can also be accessed via the Better Betting Campaign webpage

The key thing to take away from all of this is that whilst bookmakers might not play fair – there are still plenty of things we can do as punters to legitimately keep our betting account safe and usable.

Secret Betting Club

Simon Rowlands On Restrictions: Interview With The Horseracing Bettors Forum Chairman

Simon Rowlands On Restrictions: Interview With The Horseracing Bettors Forum Chairman

As part of our Better Betting Campaign we recently interviewed the Chair of the Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF), Simon Rowlands to find out his organisations take on some of the key issues confronting punters.

Chief amongst these is the issue of betting restrictions and closures, which is the topic HBF receives the most communication about. To understand HBF’s position and work thus far on this and other issues relevant to our Campaign, we posed a number of questions to Simon Rowlands who was kind enough to answer them all in detail.

Below you can find the full interview, which can also be found in the FREE ‘Getting On’ Report available via the Better Betting Campaign page.

The HBF is a voluntary body setup in 2015 by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) by its chief executive, Nick Rust to represent the interests of those who bet on the sport. You can read more about HBF at http://ukhbf.org/ including the results of their own restrictions and closures survey from earlier in 2016.

SBC: Can you summarise HBF’s current position as per bookmaker restrictions/closures and your recent survey findings? 

Simon Rowlands: HBF has heightened awareness of this issue, which is the subject above all others that the betting public has been in contact about, through our survey/website and through the media, including during an interview on Racing UK on 7 September 2016 which can be seen here [http://www.racinguk.com/video/watch/simon-rowlands-on-betting-restrictions].

In addition, it wrote to the CEOs of around a dozen leading bookmakers, sharing concerns and inviting those individuals to engage with us about this matter, though the response was mixed. HBF understands the commercial imperatives driving bookmaker activity in this area but believes that the reality is that many bettors, who are also customers or potential customers of horseracing itself, are being turned off betting on the sport by trading policies which are unsophisticated and customer-service experiences which are unsatisfactory. It is important that betting on horseracing is seen as aspirational and distinct from games of blind chance: skill and discipline should make it possible for a bettor to succeed, or at least to get by, even if the majority of punters will undoubtedly be losers, for that is what drives many of us on. HBF hopes to have face-to-face discussions with the UK Gambling Commission seeking justification for that body’s stance of non-interference in this area.

SBC: How concerned are you about the impact of account restrictions and closures on horse racing as the results of your own survey (as ours) indicates it is driving people away from the sport? 

Simon: Concerned. It is not just the experiences of those individuals directly affected (which bookmakers claim are few in number) but the perception of betting on horseracing as being a “winners not welcome” game these days which is potentially very harmful. The funding of the sport is threatened by such a scenario.

SBC: The BHA chairman Nick Rust, who set up the HBF, is on record as stating he wants to see a 5% increase in those betting on racing. Are the powers that be at the BHA aware of this issue and are they not concerned as to the wider impact it is having in terms of racing interest? 

Simon: He/they are aware of this issue, though HBF felt it had to emphasise the gravity of the situation. BHA has a lot on its plate in dealing with Authorised Betting Partner strategy and securing funding through means other than the Levy, and it would be understandable if it does not currently wish to tackle this. But BHA has not in any way been obstructive to HBF and our desire to shine light on this matter.

SBC: Do you feel there is a genuine appetite for change amongst the bookmaking fraternity to actually take more bets from all punters? If so, why have we yet to see any evidence of this aside from Corals recent shop-only offers?

Simon: Not widely, but in a few areas. HBF has emphasised that there may be an opportunity for enterprising bookmakers to cater for a disenfranchised section of the betting public, and Coral/Black Type have made welcome moves. Unfortunately, bookmakers have been pandered to for decades and many of them believe racing needs them more than they need racing (it is possible they are now right, but things should not have got to this stage).

SBC: What do you understand to be the roadblocks to change preventing bookmakers from taking more bets?

Simon: Some of them refusing to engage with a body (HBF) representing their customers. A betting landscape in which bookmakers are tempted to use racing as a loss-leader for cheaper/easier ways of extracting money from its customers. A body (UKGC) which has, at least until recently, had a remarkably laissez-faire attitude towards requiring bookmakers to act in a certain way. Successive governments which have failed to see the harmful consequences of FOBTs etc and what should be a clear distinction between them and the game of skill that betting on horseracing can be.

SBC’S 6-PART FOOTBALL COMPENDIUM

Click on each image below to read more about all 6 parts

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SBC: In your recent statement following the release of your survey, you made it clear that only a few bookmakers were co-operating with you on this issue. Are you able to provide details as to who is co-operating and how they are helping?

Simon: Not fully at this stage. A CEO of a leading bookmaker attended part of our June meeting, pledged to improve trading practises and, particularly, customer communication, and we hope to have him back in December to see how things have progressed. Unfortunately, the reality is that these things take time and organisation, and HBF (voluntary, unpaid) also has other claims on that. But we are in this for the long haul.

SBC: Are you able to list those bookmakers that are not co-operating? What reasons (if any) have they given for not wishing to discuss it?

Simon: Not yet, but we may do. Ideally, we would give them another chance to respond, but that has not been easy to arrange in the time and with the resources available.

SBC: What proposals to enable punters to get their bets on are you discussing with bookmakers and which of these appear most likely (if any) to be realistic options? Simon Rowlands post on the Betfair Forum lists a range of ideas such as offering a ‘no-frills’ service through to agreements to meet a certain liability on any bet as Coral now offer, but which of these are viable ideas?

Simon: The no-frills service is essentially what Black Type is adopting (we have little knowledge of their operation otherwise but have received favourable reports on this score to date). Coral have essentially chosen to honour an obligation, albeit only in shops, which is also to be welcomed. In addition, we have recommended a “right to review” rather than people summarily having their accounts closed/restricted and its being clearer to customers when opening accounts what activity may prompt censure.

SBC: What are your thoughts on implementing a model similar to that seen in New South Wales, Australia whereby bookmakers have to lay all punters a set amount. Do you feel this model would work in the UK?

Simon: We think it would require legislation (unless most/all bookies miraculously got behind the concept) and be difficult to achieve but that that is no reason not to try. UK Gambling Commission does not see it as their place to “interfere” in this area, but has indicated it would talk to those representing customers, which we see as us. We have issued an invite for the UKGC to attend our December meeting to discuss this and other matters.

SBC: Upon creating the HBF, Nick Rust promised that you ‘will affect policy’ at the BHA. What evidence do you have on this so far and what powers if any do the HBF have to take action on the issue of restrictions/closures?

Simon: We have influenced BHA policy less than we might wish in our first year, but that has been in part down to considerable other claims on BHA time (Lohn, Levy, ABP etc), as well as our own. The silver lining is that we have managed to assert our independence from BHA more than might otherwise have been the case, and that is positive. Account restrictions/closures is just one of several things HBF is tackling. Data provision, Non-Runners, the starting-price process and the discredited body which oversees that, establishing a website, engaging with influencers (I have written five times to Alex Salmond without a single reply, which all takes time). HBF has no statutory powers, in this or in other areas. That was made very clear at the outset, and yet some in the public have chosen to ignore that and vilify the body for failing to change things by fiat. Heightening awareness, lobbying those who can affect change, establishing evidence that may influence decision-makers, and, occasionally, calling out those who do not shape up is all that we can realistically do. But that is proving worthwhile, or should prove worthwhile ultimately.

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SBC: Ultimately many punters are pinning their hopes that the HBF might finally be able to help force through change on this issue. How confident are you that a solution can be found?

Simon: HBF takes this matter very seriously, but does not have the powers to force change. I would not be confident that a widespread solution will be found when no-one is obliging bookmakers to act in a certain way or even to engage with those representing its customers. But HBF can certainly make a meaningful contribution to the debate, and feels it already has. But, I must emphasise, account restrictions/closures is just one of the areas in which HBF is active. It must not, and will not, simply become a one-issue organisation. In recent weeks it, or some of the individuals on it, has/have been asked for feedback about Non-runners, race-day data, accuracy of going descriptions and much more besides. That is over and above more clearly betting-related matters.

SBC: There has been lots of debate about the usage of ‘tracking software’ such as IEsnare – whereby bookmakers are allegedly tracking and logging the activity of those betting with them without permission. What is HBF’s stance on them?

Simon: HBF is very concerned that tracking software may be being used in a manner that is, at the least, unethical and has drawn that to the attention of the UK Gambling Commission. Establishing the facts is proving difficult, but HBF is active in this area. It is one of the main things we wish to talk to UKGC about in person. This may, or may not be, less important than tackling account restrictions/closures but it is certainly important.

SBC: What impact if any do you feel FOBT machines and other similar machines now so prevalent in all bookmaker shops have had on this issue? Many commentators feel that until sensible limits are placed on both the number of FOBTs and stakes that can be risked (and thus the huge sums of profit they generate), many bookmakers will have only a limited interest in Horse Racing. Does HBF have a position on this?

Simon: HBF does not have a formal position on FOBTs, mostly because it has been busy establishing its position on other matters, but I personally agree with the implication of your above remarks and feel confident I reflect the general feeling of HBF. As stated earlier, horseracing should be seen as very distinct from such mindless games of pure chance. British racing’s support of FOBTs under Rust’s predecessor Paul Bittar was nothing short of a disgrace, in my opinion. I am surprised no-one has demanded BHA clarifies its position in this area now, but everything about Nick Rust’s stewardship indicates to HBF that he understands the implications in this area, as you would expect of someone with his background. We are encouraged.

Read More In Our Free ‘Getting On’ Report

This and a series of other interviews with betting industry experts and professional punters can be found in the Free ‘Getting On’ Report we have just released as part of our Better Betting Campaign.

It’s freely available to distribute and can also be accessed via the Better Betting Campaign webpage.

What Is The Better Betting Campaign

The Better Betting Campaign has been set up to tackle the huge increase in problems that punters are suffering at the hands of bookmakers. We are campaigning on 3 key issues:

1. The increased restriction and closure of betting accounts,
2. The widespread use of unauthorised tracking software
3. The steady increase in bet disputes by bookmakers acting without proper regulation.

This Campaign has been developed as a central resource to drive awareness of the issue, educate punters as to how they can take action and provide practical advice on how they can get their bets on.

You can read more about the Better Betting Campaign at https://secretbettingclub.com/better-betting-campaign/

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Better Betting: The Bookie That Closed 53.6% Of Your Accounts

Yesterday saw the launch of SBC’s Better Betting Campaign, which is demanding action and raising awareness on 3 key issues impacting many punters.

 

Its launch is part of our fight back against unfair bookmaking because as many as you outlined in our recent survey on bookmakers, the restrictions they often place upon your betting accounts is reaching critical levels.

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To help illustrate the depth of the problem especially for the sport of Horse Racing, I wanted to highlight some of the key findings from our survey in today’s email including the bookmaker that closed 53.6% of all accounts!

You can download the full report and survey findings here via The Better Betting Campaign webpage

Question: The Depth of Restrictions & Closures

Between July and August this year, we invited as many of you as possible to fill in our Bookmaker Survey – and 611 of you took the plunge and shared your experiences with us.

In total it encompassed your experience of 6575 betting accounts from 17 different bookmakers and so produced some comprehensive results.

The first question we posed was as follows: “Restrictions and Closures – Share your experiences on the following well-known bookmakers and how they may have restricted your stakes or closed your betting accounts.”

The findings from this question were stark with as many as 21.22% of all accounts closed and a further 33.46% heavily restricted. Combining both answers, this equates to 3595 or 55.68% of all accounts which are either fully closed or heavily restrictions.

On the flipside, only 29.22% (1921) accounts were not restricted – just under 3 out of 10 punters are now able to bet without issue.

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Which Bookies Closed You Down The Most?

Drilling further into this answer, we also were able to identify both the best and worst bookmakers for closing your accounts.

In terms of closing accounts, Stan James lead the way with 53.6% of all accounts held with them shut down. Both Victor Chandler and Boylesports are not far behind with 43.4% and 42.5% respectively.

Questions need to be asked as to why Stan James, Victor Chandler and Boylesports are closing down so many betting accounts?

Is it right for example that Stan James had closed down more than 1 in every 2 customers that took our survey?

Looking at the other end of this table, the ‘Best’ bookmakers were led by Betfair Sportsbook (7.8%), Marathon Bet (8.8%), 32Red (9%) and Bet365 (9.9%).

It is notable however the survey indicated that ALL 17 bookmakers do close accounts – suggesting it is a clear policy for every major firm and an industry wide problem.

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Which Sports Get Your Bets Closed & Restricted?

We also wanted to find out which sports you experience the most restrictions on – because the long held suspicion is that this issue impacts Horse Racing bettors more than with other sports.

To find out the answer, we posed the following question: “Which sports have you experienced the most problems as per restricted and closed accounts?

We listed 10 sports or markets as follows: Horse Racing, Football, US Sports, Cricket, Rugby, Tennis, Motorsport, Politics, Darts & Golf.

The most startling results came when we combined the numbers of you either closed or heavily restricted (i.e. You can only get a small percentage of your desired stake on) where a whopping 78.1% of all Horse Racing punters were impacted.

Comparing that to its nearest rival – Football at 29.6% and the majority of others which range from 13% to 22% it must be a major concern for the Horse Racing authorities.

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The Questions This Survey Highlights

The survey findings highlighted above and the other damning revelations contained in the Getting On Report raise a number of questions that require answers such as:

  • Why are bookmakers closing down and restricting the stakes of so many customers?
  • What do the British Horseracing Authority think to this issue and are they concerned about its impact on interest levels in Horse Racing?
  • What role do the Gambling Commission play in ensuring bookmakers play fair?
  • Why are no bookmakers willing to discuss this issue honestly and be clear from the outset that punters run the risk of being banned?

The hope is that through this campaign, we can get a step closer to finding some answers to some of these questions and demanding action is taken by the authorities.

Read More In The Free ‘Getting On’ Report

If you are keen to find out more than you can read the full survey findings in our FREE ‘Getting On’ Report – which is dedicated to helping you understand some of the key issues at stake.

The report is freely available to distribute and can also be accessed via The Better Betting Campaign webpage itself.

Inside it you can also read a series of interviews from various professional gamblers on their own solutions and suggestions for getting your bets on. So if you have been impacted by betting restrictions – all is not lost!

How You Can Support The Better Betting Campaign

The more people that support and share the Better Betting Campaign, the greater the impact it will have. Here are just a few ways you can play your part:

  1. Take Action: 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. The more people that write to their MP the better!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.
  2. Discuss on Social Media: You can use the hashtag #betterbetting to raise awareness, share the Campaign links and keep the conversation flowing. The Secret Betting Club Twitter account is @sbcinfo – feel free to copy us in!
  3. Share The Campaign: Invite others to visit the Better Betting Campaign website and read our report! Post on Facebook, send emails, tell your friends and family…whatever you need to do.The Getting On Report is free to download and distribute – we want as many people to read it as possible as these issues impact thousands and thousands of punters.

 

Why We Have Launched This Campaign

We have set-up this campaign in response to the huge increase in problems that punters are suffering at the hands of bookmakers.

Their refusal to play fair and its impact on some sports such as Horse Racing has reached critical levels and it’s time for action.

The Better Betting Campaign has been developed as a central resource to drive awareness of the issue, educate punters as to how they can take action and provide practical advice on how they can get their bets on.

As one of the few bookmaker-independent outlets, this also enables us to speak the truth about the betting industry and to represent the people that matter most to us – you the punter.

For more information on the Secret Betting Club and how we can help your betting visit www.secretbettingclub.com

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Introducing The Better Betting Campaign: Fight Back Against Unfair Bookmakers

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Today sees the official launch of the Secret Betting Club’s Better Betting Campaign, which is calling for action on 3 major issues many punters currently face:

1. The increased restriction and closure of betting accounts;
2. The widespread use of unauthorised tracking software;
3. The steady increase in bet disputes by bookmakers acting without proper regulation.

The Better Betting Campaign has been setup to expose the depth of these issues and provide tangible practical advice on what you can do to demand action and fight back against unfair bookmaking.

Download Your Free Campaign Report

We are inviting everyone impacted by these issues to download our FREE ‘Getting On’ Report – which is dedicated to helping you understand some of the key issues at stake.

It’s a FREE 55-page report featuring expert articles and guidance – including the results of our account restrictions survey on the worst bookmakers and interviews with the likes of Simon Rowlands, Paul Fairhead and several professional gamblers.

Available in PDF format – you can download it now via the Better Betting Campaign Webpage.

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How You Can Support The Better Betting Campaign

The more people that support and raise awareness about the Better Betting Campaign, the greater the impact it will have. Here are just a few ways you can play your part:

  1. Take Action: 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. The more people that write to their MP the better!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.
  2. Discuss on Social Media: You can use the hashtag #betterbetting to raise awareness, share the Campaign links and keep the conversation flowing. The Secret Betting Club Twitter account is @sbcinfo – feel free to copy us in on your tweets!
  3. Share The Campaign: Invite others to visit the Better Betting Campaign website and read our report! Post on facebook, send emails, tell your friends and family…whatever you need to do to get the message out there.The Getting On Report is free to download and distribute – we want as many people to read it as possible as these issues impact thousands and thousands of punters.

 

Why We Have Launched This Campaign

We have set-up this campaign in response to the huge increase in problems that punters are suffering at the hands of bookmakers.

Their refusal to play fair and its impact on some sports such as Horse Racing has reached critical levels and it’s time for action.

The Better Betting Campaign has been developed as a central resource to drive awareness of the issue, educate punters as to how they can take action and provide practical advice on how they can get their bets on.

As one of the few bookmaker-independent outlets, this also enables us to speak the truth about the betting industry and to represent the people that matter most to us – you the punter.

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