If bookmaker account restrictions and closures are a problem for you then I have important developments to share today – including how you can help drive change towards a minimum bet law – where bookies would be compelled to lay ALL punters a certain amount whatever their skill and profit level.
Driven by the punters champion, Brian Chappell of Justice for Punters, it is your chance to stand up and demand change in the bookmaking industry.
A Gambling Commission Consultation On Bookmakers
The Gambling Commission (GC) has recently opened a new consultation into Licence conditions and codes of practice (LCCP)’ of bookmakers and are extremely keen to hear from gambling consumers (i.e. YOU) on your thoughts about the industry and how you are treated.
If you want the GC to have more powers to enforce fair play of any sort amongst bookmakers, including the ‘right to bet’, (in other words to introduce a minimum bet law for sports betting) it’s vitally important as many of you as possible contribute to this consultation.
It’s not just the right to bet and minimum bet laws that are covered by this consultation but also other bookmaker ‘complaints and disputes’ that you might have. After all, we all know that present customer services from nearly all major bookmaking companies are poor and people often have to wait months for justice using dispute resolution.
It’s your chance to feedback therefore on topics like:
- Your experiences with bet restrictions and your thoughts on a min bet law;
- The issues you regularly experience with bookmakers as a keen punter;
- The changes you would like to see implemented as part of a fairer system.
All of these opinions and more are being sought by the Gambling Commission as part of their consultation.
Rather than fill in the long-winded LCCP formal consultation document itself, the good news is that you can now share them your thoughts with the GC via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
But before you pen your email – allow me to provide some ideas on how to make your submission to them as powerful as possible…
Tips To Make Your Contribution As Impactful As Possible
To help ensure your email to the GC has the maximum impact, I have a few pointers on how to frame it as follows:
- Include as much detail as possible
The more detail you can include in your email to the Gambling Commission, the better. If you have a long history of bad treatment whether it be bet restrictions, slow withdrawals, bet disputes or anything else, then make sure you write about it.
- Share your personal experiences
No-one can question your personal experiences if you have suffered what you believe to be unfair treatment at the hands of a bookmaker, so be sure to include as many of these as possible within your email.
If you had your account limited or closed – why did this happen and when? Had you made any money betting at that point? How did each firm treat you?
If you had a bet dispute or delay withdrawing funds – again, why did this happen, who was it with and how long did it take to resolve? (if at all)
- Try not to rant & be constructive
I know bookmaking can be an emotive subject for many, but if you can, try and make your points as calmly and eloquently as possible. Ranting emails are likely to be overlooked in favour of those that make their points clearly and constructively.
- Question the standards and morality of restrictions
We all know there are some very distinct issues when it comes to betting restrictions and that it is simply wrong that a UK gambling licence allows companies to refuse to trade with anyone who shows ability when sports betting.
This is not fair and not what a bookmaker is supposed to have a licence for.
It is presently made worse by the fact that bookmakers do not make it clear in their advertising and terms and conditions that all customers who study and use skill are effectively banned from sports betting using stake restrictions.
Contrasting restrictions with how free and easy bookmakers make it to lose money with them, be it online in their casino or by playing FOBT’s and you have some very clear double standards to reference.
Why We Want A ‘Minimum Bet Law’
We have been banging on about the issue of restrictions now for several years, including through our Better Betting Campaign, which we ran in 2016 to raise awareness of this issue.
As we outlined in that campaign – the solution to betting restrictions has long been that of a minimum bet law or right to bet, which would compel all bookmakers as part of their licence requirements to lay a bet from all punters for an agreed amount.
A sensible figure bandied around is that of laying to lose up to £500 on any one bet – so for example you could get £50 on a 10/1 shot without issue.
I ran a short poll on this for 2 hours on social media on Tuesday with 36% of you thinking £500 is a sensible amount and 38% hoping for £1000+.
Whatever the amount any minimum bet law might have, it’s worth looking to Australia, where a similar rule has been imposed for sometime now and is working to good effect.
To implement such a rule in the UK would ultimately require regulation as bookies have shown no appetite to lay bets from all punters themselves. They have proven time and time again, that as an industry they cannot self-regulate effectively.
Whilst most bookmakers continue to blame ‘arbers’ and say it’s only a tiny minority of punters impacted by restrictions, the ever-growing number of those complaining about it would suggest otherwise.
Even the Racing Post has belatedly got in on the act, with Editor Bruce Millington finally agreeing action is needed on this issue. Although his counter-argument that such a law would see some punters opening multiple accounts to get up to £20,000 on (if the min bet law was £1000 and they had 20 accounts) is a very weak one. In reality, very, very few punters are staking up to such levels. In any case, bookmakers are not being told what odds to offer so they could simply slash the price on any bet they are worried about liabilities on if too much money comes in. It’s that old chestnut again – bookmakers actually running a proper book.
Parliament Takes An Active Interest
Bruce was also one of the invited speakers (alongside Simon Rowlands of the excellent Horseracing Bettors Forum and SkyBet CEO Richard Flint) at a recent Parliamentary All-Party Betting & Group seminar entitled ‘ ‘Are bookmakers unfairly closing customer accounts?’
As the Guardian report of this packed meeting suggests, the likelihood of a min bet ruling is growing ever more likely as momentum grows on this issue.
One of the attendees, Lord Lipsey summed up many punters thoughts when he exclaimed that “We should be congratulating winners, not denigrating them, if we want racing and betting to grow” and that “Bookmakers need to get a grip of this”.
The clear implication that if bookmakers won’t take action on this issue then the government and regulatory bodies will, just as they are doing on FOBT’s.
All of which is why it’s so important as many of you as possible share your experiences with the Gambling Commission on bookmakers.
If you believe a min bet law is needed – let them know why and how restrictions have impacted you.
You can send your thoughts to them via this email address: email@example.com
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to help drive change!
Thanks To Justice for Punters
A word if I may as well here for the aforementioned Justice for Punters (JFP) group of volunteers, who continue to do sterling work on behalf of us all and who have led the charge on this topic.
Brian of JFP has been a tireless campaigner for punters rights and a constant thorn in the bookies side over recent years. Whilst the Racing Post refuse to highlight his work, he has been quoted extensively by the likes of the Times, Guardian and BBC who recognise his status.
His help in raising awareness of this new consultation and enabling the Gambling Commission to accept submissions via email has also been vital. My thanks go out to him for all his assistance.
For more information on the work of Justice for Punters please do visit https://justiceforpunters.org/ and become a ‘friend’ of their campaign. This is free and none of your details will be shared with any other organisations or for that matter, anyone.
Secret Betting Club Editor