Should Bet Acceptance & Minimum Bet Guarantee Be Mandatory?
If you’ve been around the online gambling world for some time now, the likelihood is that you’ve heard of online sportsbooks denying bets, or rather, restricting accounts so that the user cannot make wagers beyond a certain amount (usually very low amounts like £0.50 or £1). It’s a common practice for bookmakers to utilise, because when they see that someone knows what they’re doing and winning on a frequent basis, it puts their own profits in jeopardy. Instead of just allowing these players to clean up with their sports betting skills, they place such restrictions on their betting accounts to limit what they can obtain. Bookmakers are private companies and ultimately they can choose who they offer their services to.
Nothing can quite dampen your sports betting fun like finding out your account has been restricted or blocked. High rollers tend to find this happens to them on a regular basis, simply because of the potential for huge payouts from such. You could potentially go from placing bets of £1,000 and above, to being restricted to £1 or even cut off from doing so altogether. Why is this the case at sportsbooks? And should bet acceptance by these platforms be mandatory? Could it work that the sportsbooks introduce a minimum bet guarantee that applies to everyone registered at their sites? Is it even fair in the first place that bettors are limited with what they can do with their own money and should the law makers step in to force bookies to accept bets from everyone?
Let’s take a look at whether there should be a rule in place for online sports betting sites to accept all bets at all times. Or if not, what kind of minimum betting rule could work in place of such a setup?
Why Do Sportsbooks Restrict Their Users?
When an online betting account becomes limited, it basically means that the amount it is possible to wager through it is restricted. This usually occurs when the player associated with the account is winning too much or they are suspected of committing on offence against the rules of the platform. But what is the deal with banning an account that is winning a lot? Surely that is the whole idea of placing sports bets in the first place – to win money.
Well, sportsbooks enact this operation as a way of protecting themselves, and in some circumstances, they will close an account completely should it be felt that the player is too much of a problem to deal with. This course of action can be exceptionally frustrating for the bettor, who has potentially just settled into his wagering activity at the site.
It may not be obvious why winning a lot of money through your sports bets is a problem for online bookmakers. Yet it remains the most likely reason why your account has been restricted in the first place. Obviously, if you are being successful with your sports bets, this is great for you. You’ll see your balance increase significantly, and then get to benefit from withdrawing those winnings. It’s not so great when you find that you can no longer place such significant wagers, though.
But sportsbooks need to make a profit in order to continue providing their services to the online world. These businesses don’t mind people winning here and there, picking up small victories, and so on. But if you end up securing wins more often than not, the sportsbook is losing money to you for your payouts. This is not something that they enjoy doing. And while it may not seem like a fair outcome for the platform to restrict or close your account in response to this, it is something that they are legally able to do without repercussions.
Is This Legal Practice?
To put it bluntly, it is not illegal for a bookmaker to limit your account, or to even close it or disallow your future bets. A sportsbook is under no obligation to accept a wager that you want to place, they can even void a wager you have already placed and refund your stake – you have no ability to force the bookie to take your wager. In fact, many platforms will include something relating to this practice within their terms and conditions, and you need to ensure that you are aware of this before you start betting huge sums of money.
Some people have questioned the ethics behind this, as it does seem to be highly unfair on the general sports gambler. However, you have to remember that an online sportsbook is a business like any other, and it needs to secure profit to continue operating. This is even truer today, with operators being taxed by the Government on their takings. They need to ensure that they have enough left over to pay employees, continue running their websites, and so on. For this reason, a sportsbook is free to either accept or deny specific bets at their leisure. In short, it makes sense business-wise for a gambling company.
Yet do sportsbooks also aim all of their fantastic offers and promotions at those players with less money? Some have suggested that 'mug gamblers' – those who don’t really know what they’re doing – manage to obtain some impressive rewards as bettors. And this could quite possibly be the case, considering they aren’t likely to be a threat to the profits of a sportsbook. This is made even more so when they see a special offer that advertises the potential for their profits to be boosted and claim it. They then place silly wagers and lose everything, or if they win, they are restricted by wagering requirements or other terms and conditions.
Should There Be Rules For Minimum Bet Acceptance?
It has been suggested that all sportsbooks introduce a minimum bet guarantee that caters to all registered players. A small group of bookmakers have already incorporated such into their platforms, which allows anyone to bet on selected markets, regardless of whether they are restricted or not. That sounds a bit contradictory to the norm, doesn’t it? Yet it’s not all as rosy as it seems initially.
Some stipulations have also been placed on these guaranteed bets, too. The main rule surrounding minimum bet guarantees is that you cannot win more than a specified amount from utilising them. Although this does have a decent amount attached to it in most cases. And in actuality, you can lock in some profit by using these betting possibilities.
Which companies provide minimum bet guarantees to their registered gamblers?
Provided on all UK and Irish Class 1 and Class 2 horse races, the guarantee is applied from 10 am on the day of the race. All bettors have the opportunity to back their selections to win £500 in the main ‘Win’ market. The guarantee only applies to the win part of all each-way bets and does not apply to multiples.
Again, a £500 minimum bet guarantee is applied to all UK and Irish horse races at this sportsbook, although it starts from 11 am on the race day. The win market is the only one targeted through this, and it is not offered on any other racing events for the time being.
Not too long after the Sky Bet brand introduced its minimum bet guarantee in 2018, William Hill followed suit. This was provided on televised horse racing, including online, and was marketed as a unique offer from the bookie. It began by providing a guarantee for lay customers to lose a minimum of £5,000 for win bets in betting shops or £1,000 for online customers. Both were provided on race day from 10 am onwards.
This was then adjusted in 2019, coming in the form of a new £500 guarantee. As with other offers noted here, all UK and Irish horse races were targeted, with William Hill agreeing to lay a horse to win £500, covering win bets only.
While Ladbrokes does offer a minimum bet guarantee, it is only able to be taken up in a retail betting shop. Through this, it guarantees to lay bets to lose at least £5,000 per customer on all races broadcast on ITV.
A daily guarantee was also brought in to law all bets placed on Class 4 and above handicaps, Listed, Group and Graded races to lose at least £2,000. Any other UK and Irish horse race was also targeted for losing at least £500 from 11 am.
As with Ladbrokes, the Coral guarantee is only available in-store. This is provided for customers to lose at least £5,000 per race from 9 am, which relates to all races shown on Channel 4.
Another is to lose at least £2,000 per customer on races including all non-televised Class 4 and above handicaps, Listed and Group/Graded races within the United Kingdom.
Coral may also choose to provide the £5,000 and £2,000 guarantees on other selected UK and international races at its own discretion. Such an option would be advertised within the retail outlets on the day of the race.
A Slightly Limited Affair
While it is great to see that these platforms have introduced minimum bet guarantees, it does seem quite limiting to provide such solely on horse racing options. Not every bettor is particularly fond of wagering on these events. Would it not be a lot fairer to just have such guarantees rolled out across the entire collection of sports markets available?
Yet it took a while to reach this point of actually having a minimum bet guarantee in place at all. Considering that the players who were restricted were simply placing intelligent bets and not really doing anything wrong to be blocked, it seemed a very stern way to deal with them.
The minimum bet guarantee actually came into effect in Australia first, gaining some level of traction as a sort of compromise between the bookies and the punters. Victoria became the very first state to provide such to its gamblers, and this was given solely on greyhound racing. Guarantees have since been rolled out across both horse races and greyhound races in most cases. Likewise, options like football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, MMA, and so on are not catered to with these guarantees.
It was only after British bookmakers saw the effectiveness of the minimum bet guarantees in Australia that they started enacting them in the UK and Ireland, too. The offers from Ladbrokes and Coral within their betting shops were some of the first that players could benefit from, Sky Bet became the first large online bookmaker to allow its players to utilise minimum bet guarantees.
If your sports betting account has been restricted by the platform you’re betting at, then you should still be able to make use of the guarantee offer. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of the bookmaker beforehand, to ensure that you are betting on the correct markets and at the correct times of day, too. Should you have a banned account, you need to contact the customer support team to inform them that you want to bet on the minimum bet guarantee. This should see your account reinstated for that very purpose.
The offer provided by these platforms is very much able to cater to regular bettors or beginners. Yet it is not something that is recommended for people to utilise unless they have actually been restricted and cannot place the normal bets at the site they’re registered at. It does serve as a nice route out for people that are in that situation, though. To make it more adaptable would be the next step – so, essentially, to ensure that people can take advantage of a minimum bet guarantee on all sports, rather than just on one or two specific ones.