My article last week on bookmaker restrictions (AKA bookie-leaks) caused quite a reaction with plenty of emails, tweets and questions received following its publication. So much so that I thought I would highlight a few of the points raised and questions posed in today’s email.
Firstly onto the article itself and if you missed it first time around, you can read it in all its glory here: The Inside Story On How One Bookmaker Restricts The Stakes Of Its Customers.
Kicking off this follow-up, the theme of last weeks article (the depths that bookmakers go to profile gamblers, encourage losers & prevent winners) certainly rang true with more than a few of you. Here is a small selection of tweets and emails received…
“Bookies are still doing what they want how they want and when they want…until someone has the balls to stand up to them they will steam roller over all and sundry.” – David
“Excellent article on what bookmakers have been doing online for well over a decade. If every delusional punter could read what actually goes on we might have a RATNER or WONGA moment when the truth finally drops.” – @mrpcmaguire
“Hate a winner, love a loser. The machines guaranteed them a substantial earner and were rigged so it was never a gamble for Fred and his cronies. After April they may have to take a punt.” – @GordonRwhgordon
Gordon is of course referring to FOBT machines, which for far too long were seen as cash cows for bookmakers. This all stops in April when new legislation will be reducing stakes, which in turn will be forcing those bookmakers affected to look for different revenue streams.
More Legislation Required?
A number of you are very keen to see even more legislation – this time laws to compel bookmakers to lay a bet as part of their licence requirements…
“A sad indictment for the bookmaking industry; current licensing requirements are clearly going to need to be rewritten to cope with this tech-enabled greed orgy.” – @BetsStatistical
“I think it’s time the government stepped in and enforced a set of fair to all standards. They all claim to be Bookmakers, their profits should be limited to the percentage provided by their books, not by the farming of their customers.” – Malcolm
“Very informative and true. I would say it is criminal what bookies do nowadays. Politicians must wake up and do their job.” – @kokobet2
Big Losses = VIP Customer
One of the revelations from the leaked stake factoring table was the amount you could stake as a ‘High Value Customer’ – as much as 5x the maximum bet amount if considered a major VIP.
And as the next tweet pointed out – VIP’s are usually only those who lose lots of money:
“To be considered for a VIP account you need to be losing serious amounts. Not messing about stakes, but high turnover, high stakes action. Sure, a few of those will be bored millionaires. But most will be serious problem gamblers and the firms know it.” – @Mattgrayc64
Whilst its hard to know the proportion of punters tagged as VIP customers who might have a gambling problem, clearly the idea of encouraging losers to keep losing more and more is not a responsible strategy. Especially if you are at the same time closing the accounts of winning customers and those that do bet responsibly. It’s the ultimate ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ business!
Inflated Bookmaker Overrounds
Another interesting point was raised by email by Ron, who asked about over-rounds (the bookmakers inbuilt profit margins) and why there were no rules on their size. The Grand National is well known for having an inflated overround but to see this creeping into everyday racing has to be a major concern. Here is what Ron queried…
“One question I can never find the answer to again regarding racing is: How is that there is no correlation between the number of runners in a race and the over round percentage?
The Grand National for example generally has a book % of 160 for 40 runners, yet as recently as last Sunday two 10 runner races had over rounds of 130 and 127%. How can this be justified? Are there no rules governing a min or max percentage take out?” – Ron
I also included this point as earlier this week, the Horseracing Bettors Forum published a fascinating study on bookmaker over-rounds broken down by UK racecourse. This kind of study is essential as it highlights the discrepancy in value punters get if betting at SP at different courses, with the likes of Ffos Las the worst by some margin. Once again the findings suggest a less than level playing field for bettors and the need for action to rectify it.
Inflated Bookmaker Over-rounds
Moving on and another point raised by a couple of you was as regards the large restrictions placed on punters with e-wallet accounts offered by the likes of Skrill or Neteller. In the Stake Factoring table leaked in last weeks article, e-wallet users were restricted to staking just 2% of the max bet allowed.
“I use Skrill on most my bookie accounts. So does this mean my stakes will be reduced just for doing so?” – Mark
“Wonder what they have against Moneybookers/Neteller though” – @kjetilh_sports
My best guess on this front (as its hard to say with 100% accuracy as the leaked file doesn’t reference more on this) is that such restrictions are placed due to concerns about account holders with e-wallets being more like to abuse bookmaker offers and free bets/bonuses. Customers using an e-wallet from certain countries immediately raise a red-flag, whilst e-wallets are also operated by those opening multiple accounts.
This is not to say you should stop using e-wallets and many of you have done so without issue for sometime, yet its important to be aware that by doing so, there is a chance you will come under greater scrutiny.
Basketball But Not Racing?
Another fascinating email came in from David who outlined the differences he has experienced betting in shops on NBA, where he has won regularly without issue.
“I mainly bet on Basketball and I can honestly say that I have won every month bar November since the current season started last Sept and I nearly always put my three of four £25 singles on by midday once I know the team news and before the price starts to change” – David
This does raise a very interesting set of points as it contrasts how you can bet and win on certain sports like NBA but not on horseracing. Something that really should bother the likes of the British Horseracing Authority a lot more as the inability to bet on the ‘Sport of Kings’ could well effect its popularity (if indeed it hasn’t already).
The reality is that I highly doubt David would have been accommodated to the same extent if he had bet on horseracing. His size stakes also keep him under the radar, because as my bookie insider told me the other day – any bets £50 and over placed in shops are referred for checks with head office and serial winners are duly profiled and often restricted.
This article was originally featured by Smart Betting Club and is reprinted here with their permission.
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