While online betting is a safe, secure and regulated enviroment nowadays, there have always been (and will always be) reports about punters having their money ‘stolen’ by certain sportsbooks circling the betting forums and websites. Some of you may have already experienced being ‘cheated’ by the bookies. This article aims to shed some insight about account security and punter responsibility.
While I am not trying to defend the Bookmakers, I have rarely seen a situation in which a sportsbook was truly legally responsible for a ripoff, and even then the testimonies of the victims were questionable. Let me repeat myself: legally, not morally. In about 10 years of online betting, I have never experienced a single problem in my betting activity, aside from some small bonus issues in my early days and some limitations here and there. All this while with certain sportsbooks I was / I am betting big, also being a winning punter. While I am not trying to make myself an example, and nor do I feel that my personal experience is an irrefutable standard, I think that I am in a position to accurately depict how things work.
Firstly, you should know that the bookies have the legal right to suspend accounts and the funds associated with them. That being said, let`s see which are the usual motives for account suspensions / closure and fund blocking and how can you avoid any problems.
1. Duplicate accounts (more than 1 account per person) and bonus abuse (claiming more bonuses on different accounts).
What to do? Obviously, don`t do it. But it can also sometimes be an honest mistake. Make sure to contact the bookmaker if you feel you might have opened an account with them in the past. Ask if this is the case, and if so to either suspend your old account (so you can open a new one) or reactivate it so you can use it without opening a new one.
2. Browsing your account from different computers / IP`s
What to do? There`s no problem if you browse your account from different Ip`s that were not used by anyone else. But if you access your account, let`s say, from a friend`s phone, who also has his own account at that respective bookmaker, make sure to send an e-mail informing the sportsbook about the situation. When I was playing at Betfair from work, I notified them about this, thinking that someone in the network might also have an account with them. They thanked me and confirmed that this could have been a case of suspected fraud in certain circumstances. I like to think that this kind of approach kept me out of trouble.
3. Fraud suspicion
What to do? If, by a bookies or payment system`s mistake, you end up with more money in your account, either withdraw the money immediately and say good bye to that certain sportsbook forever (hoping they don`t take legal action – which they most likely won`t), or inform them about the mistake.
4. Real fraud
Obviously, you can expect the worst if you knowingly try to embezzle or cheat.
5. Be cautious with smaller bookies (update added July 2017)
If you are betting at smaller bookmakers, avoid hedging your bets (ex: betting on both competitors), and avoid betting large sums of money on low level events like tennis ITF’s – especially live and if you find unusually high odds at that particular bookmaker. Of course, you shouldn`t be force to take this precautions, but it`s better to stay on the safe side and don`t give bookies the chance to interpret the T&C’s in their favor – and potentially block your funds.
I agree that many times the actions taken by the bookies are not morally correct, and punters often state that “they shouldn`t do that, even if its in the Terms and Conditions”. That may be true, but it is every punter`s responsibility to take care of his/hers money. It`s like getting hit by a car on the crosswalk on the yellow light. Morally, it`s the driver’s fault, and arguably even legally. However, that really doesn`t make a difference for you, as it is your life or physical integrity that has to suffer. Dying with justice in your hands is of little to no comfort.
Bottom line: it`s your money, you owe it to yourself to take any possible action to protect it. Read the terms and conditions, discuss with the bookies when you feel you may have done something even remotely wrong and you should be completely safe with your funds and account security. Believe it or not, no bookmaker will jeopardise their brand and long-term image by stealing a couple of bucks. This also applies, for example, to welcome bonuses / promotions. Make sure to know exactly what kind of rollover requirements a bonus has, or you might end up howling that the bookies ripped you off, and no one will hear you.
Of course, make sure to open accounts with trusted sportsbooks, either established companies or bookies recommended by someone you have faith in. You can visit our trusted bookmakers list, as these are carefully reviewed sportsbooks and we will also try to assist you in every possible problem you might have, if you register through Betdistrict.
If by some chance you will find yourself cheated by a bookmaker, you can find help or take legal action at websites like Gpwa.org or at the Comision that regulates the bookmaker in question (like Gamblingcomission.gov.uk or Alderney). However, I have to say that you will rarely come up with a favorable decision. You can also contact us, and we`ll try to help you if we can, we`ll see if something can be done.