Bookmakers terms and conditions – we can do whatever we want
It is well known that bookmakers have a lot of terms and conditions that practically allow them to do anything they want with their customers and their bets. From limiting or cancelling users accounts, to voiding bets or changing odds, they have dozens of measures to protect them against any sharp bettor and their traders’ mistakes. In general, regulators have not taken care of this situations. Will this ever change?
Abusive terms and conditions
Although it is obvious that Bookmakers must protect themselves against many risks involved in accepting bets – such as betting syndicates, software errors, traders errors, etc. – their terms and conditions’ wording normally leaves every decision at their sole discretion. This protects bookmakers from the risks mentioned but also allows them to take abusive actions against certain bettors (in general winners’ accounts).
- We reserve the right to close or suspend your account at any time and for any reason.
- We reserve the right to decline all, or part, of any bet/wager requested at our sole and absolute discretion.
- We reserve the right to cancel any bet/wager at any time.
The previous terms and conditions are the main weapons Bookmakers use against arbitrage bettors. Their tricks include limiting arbers’ accounts to ridiculous wagering amounts (such as 1 euro), voiding winning bets even when the “palpable error” rule is not clear, or closing accounts. And these actions are always in accordance with their terms and conditions.
The light at the end of the tunnel
Has a supermarket the right to prohibit entrance to any person for an arbitrary reason?
And what if this person always buys the best promotional and discounted articles?
And what if this person later sells these products at higher prices?
It seems obvious that none of the above reasons – alone – entitles a supermarket to ban a customer (*).
Then, why is this situation accepted at bookmakers?
Organizations and government agencies in charge of protecting consumers’ rights have began to take care of these issues. Take a look at the following cases:
Case 1: The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) regulatory body accused Bet365 of breaching national consumer law and making misleading representations to customers, with various free bet and deposit bonus offers. As usual, Bet365 offered up to AUS$ 200 in bets that were subject to a number of conditions that were not prominently displayed. Moreover, Bet365 forced the player to risk his own deposit in order to receive the free bet or bonus. Other requirements included:
- wager three times the value of deposits and bonus within 90 days
- bet at odds of no less than 1.5 (higher risk transactions)
Case 2: Racing New South Wales implemented new guidelines in September obliging bookmakers to accept any bets that pay out $1,000 or less, after receiving hundreds of complaints from successful punters whose accounts were frozen or restricted.
“It is not fair to have wagering operators profit from punter losses but then ban or restrict successful punters in the amount they can wager on any one bet,”
the State Gaming Minister said.
Case 3: In Spain a bettor wrote a letter to “Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ)” (Gambling Regulator) claiming William Hill unfairly voided his bet on a volleyball game. 6 months later DGOJ established that it was not possible to estate that this bet’s odds were a palpable error, thus it was not fair to void this bet and the winnings should be paid. The bettor posted on his blog the William Hill finally credited the winning amount on his account.
It seems the future could bring some hope, but it depends on us to start claiming our rights.
Are bookmakers betting terms and conditions always enforceable?
And should players respect unfair terms? According to the High Court in the UK, no.
In a recent case that saw spread betting specialist Spreadex trying to recover £50,000 from a player that refused to pay his losses claiming they had been generated by trades started by his girlfriend’s five-year-old son, the High Court ruled the player was not responsible for the losses as the acceptance of the terms of service was not legally binding because the terms were unfair.
(*) In many countries the law even forces supermarkets to honour the price at the aisle if it is different from the price at the cashier.
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