Resolving Problems and Disputes
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Most of the time most of your betting will be reasonably problem free, but occasionally difficulties and misunderstandings can arise. The aim of this post is to help you solve them with the minimum of fuss and worry.
Most disputes fall into one of the following categories:
- You didn’t get a free bet or bonus when you thought you should have one.
- Your bet is settled at lower odds than you think you took, has disappeared or was settled as a loser.
- Your withdrawal was blocked when you thought you had completed the WR.
- Your money hasn’t arrived in the bank/moneybookers etc when you expected it to.
- Your account has been locked or closed and you can’t log in.
Most of these are genuine errors on behalf of either the punter or the bookie and most can be resolved perfectly easily. Just occasionally you get a real rogue bookie who either refuses to pay out or alters the terms of a bonus part way through. Hopefully the Bookie pages and posts in the forum will prevent you from joining most of these in the first place, but if the worst should happen there are some things you can still try.
In general, for all of these, I find a calm, reasoned approach yields much better results than an aggrieved, aggressive one. Bookmakers regard free bets as a privilege for their customers, not a right, and they can take exception to aggression and argument. It is often better to capitulate and write off the losses in minor disputes with bookies who have valuable accounts (eg William Hill), as they have a tendency to limit people who complain.
No Free Bet or Bonus
Common causes of this are misreading (or not reading) the T&Cs and placing the qualifying bet on the wrong sort of market or odds. With casinos it can be due to playing the wrong game or a game that counts less than 100% towards the WR. It can also be that there is a time delay before the free bet appears, or that the free bet only appears when you load a betslip.
Prevention – check before you start that you are using an allowed deposit method, your country is in the list allowed to receive bonuses, you are depositing the correct amount of money, you know which markets are restricted/allowed, you know what the minimum and maximum odds are for qualifying and the WR if any. Take a screenshot of the T&Cs if possible. Take note of when the bonus will be credited. With short term offers (eg free bets earned by betting on a specific event) the T&Cs have often been removed by the time you need this info. In general the less well-known the bookie (and in particular if the T&Cs are written in poor or broken English) the more cautious you should be and the more essential a screenshot becomes.
Recommended action – If you are sure you have qualified and no free bet has appeared, the best thing to do first is ask on the forum where to find your free bet. The chances are someone else who has done the same offer will be able to tell you and it can save you some embarrassment. If you need to contact the bookie, I find the best results come from a polite phone call (or live chat session). Emails are unsatisfactory as they can much more easily be ignored, and I would only use them if the other methods were not available. Have ready your account details and if possible a bet ID for the qualifying bet, and adopt a puzzled rather than aggressive manner. I find this almost always works and an apology or explanation is usually forthcoming. It may be that you have interpreted the WR as being 3x Bonus when it was 3x D+B, or it may have been a software failure or similar at their end.
If you find that you have made a mistake and placed your qualifier at 1.7 and the minimum odds are 2.0 it is worth asking if they will give you a free bet after a 2nd qualifying bet at the correct odds. It is very much upto the bookie, but I have known several occasions when people have pleaded ignorance and been given a second chance with signup offers. I think offers for existing customers are likely to be treated rather less leniently. In a similar vein, if you have placed your bet on the “wrong” thing (eg the wrong horse) you can try to get the bet voided by the bookie or placed on the correct horse, but most will just say “tough” and refuse to do this – they are entitled to as most say in their rules that once a bet is placed it can’t be cancelled.
Bet settlement wasn’t as you expected
There are several common causes of this.
Betslip issues – the odds were cut on the betslip either before you confirmed and you didn’t notice, or after you confirmed (which is very rare but has been known), or in the case of the vanishing bet, that you didn’t confirm at all.
Rule 4 – This usually only happens in horse racing after a non runner is removed from the race, but occasionally bookies may apply rule 4 to outright markets on other sports if one of the better players doesn’t start. It is worth knowing that if you bet at early prices and there is a late non runner, some bookies base the rule 4 on the last price they had for the non-runner at EP rather than the price when it was withdrawn at BP. In the case of a horse that drifts considerably in the betting at BP this can result in a much larger rule 4 than the one announced on TV and in the papers. If you have been charged a larger rule 4 than expected on an EP bet, go to Oddschecker and look at the price of the non-runner about 1/2 an hour before the race and this will usually reveal the reason (to find the historic prices, click on the name of the horse you are interested in).
There is no point in arguing with bookies over this – it is in their rules.
Rules differences – these can mean you lose when you think you won or vice versa. If you don’t check the bookie’s rules beforehand you can’t complain if you lose out to rules differences.
Disqualifications – usually these work in your favour or are completely neutral. Very occasionally you find a bookie who settles on a first past the post basis and becomes confused after the disqualification – I have known this with Gamebookers/Partybets. All you can do is present them with firm evidence of the official result (which is what Betfair use), preferably from the official website for that sport, and hope they will amend their settlement.
Prevention – for any bookie who has a confirmation screen, double check the odds before clicking confirm. Take a screenshot of the receipt. For horse racing, check carefully that there has not been a recent non runner, and if in doubt, don’t bet. A non runner after your bet has been placed will still reduce your odds, but providing it has not already been removed at Betfair, it shouldn’t usually mean you make a loss unless you are very unlucky. If you are betting on sports other than football, be aware of any rules differences between bookie and Betfair.
Experience shows that you have no chance whatsoever of getting a result from the bookie over this sort of dispute unless you have a screenshot of a betslip showing the correct odds and the bet ID. The ones which have software which cuts the odds without warning on the betslip (Tote, Coral and William Hill used to be bad at this, but have since changed their sites and I have no recent info) will deny that this is possible and insist you took the lower odds. Before you go charging in complaining and risking your account being flagged and limited, make absolutely sure that you can back up your allegations with facts that you can show them. Check for instance that you haven’t placed the bet on a different market (baseball games can be very dangerous for this with the same teams playing on consecutive days). Even the most careful arber WILL make the occasional mistake. As for rule 4 disputes, I have never known a bookie back down on this one exccept in the case of an obvious mistake, and you should give the bookie plenty of time to correct it before considering risking your account by complaining.
On one occasion, after backing a horse in a French race with a small bookie, my bet remained unsettled for 3 days. I phoned the bookie and asked why, and he apologised profusely saying my bet was the only one he had taken on that particular race and he had forgotten to settle it! In general bookies can be slower settling foreign races – Coral used to be particularly slow with bet settlement, often not settling evening events until the following day.
The most common causes of problems with withdrawals are misunderstanding of wager requirements and the bookie requiring ID. Very occasionally you may find that the wager requirement has increased since you started it. In this case it is useful to have a screenshot of the T&Cs when you joined, although often the bookie is well aware of this anyway. If this is causing you real problems because your account has been limited as well, then it is probably a case for SBR (see below). You should always be as certain as it is possible to be that wager requirements have been completed before you attempt to withdraw, as some bookies and particularly casinos will remove the bonus if a withdrawal is even attempted during the WR.
Prevention – make sure you understand what the wager requirement entails and any restrictions on markets, odds, bet type etc. A few bookies have bizarre wager requirements where you bet your own funds first but the WR is only completed by betting with bonus funds. These are extremely tricky to do and you should think very carefully about the implications should you have a few wins at the bookie early on. Make sure you have the required ID documents ready to send. Australian bookies are particularly fussy about these and might require certified copies. Take screenshots of T&Cs, particularly if anything looks complicated, and if you are in any doubt about the requirements, ask the bookie before you deposit any money.
If you do run into problems with a bookie requiring more and more ID, after you have sent them everything reasonable you should threaten to involve SBR. This sometimes has the desired effect, particularly with the higher rated bookies, but if it does not, you should be prepared to carry out the threat. Sadly with the rogue bookies SBR can do very little except publicise the fact, and if a bookie is short of funds and going out of business there is nothing you can do.
Betfair is an oddity in that it allows you to deposit by several different methods (most bookies only allow one). This can cause special difficulties with withdrawing from Betfair which can appear extremely puzzling. The rule of thumb is that until you have cleared your net deposits by every deposit method you have used, you may only withdraw to each method upto the amount you deposited in that way. This means that if your card is lost or stolen and you register a new one, you may find that you have to withdraw large amounts of money to other methods such as paypal or click and buy until your net deposits build up on the new card. So if you have deposited any amount by card, £1000 by moneybookers and £500 by paypal and your balance stands at over £1500 when you lose your card, you have to withdraw £1000 to moneybookers and £500 to paypal before you can make any withdrawals to anywhere else, even if your new card is on the same bank account as the lost one. You should consider this carefully before building up large net deposits by methods you would not want to withdraw large sums to. (I had precisely this problem when HSBC changed my Maestro card into a Visa.)
Money hasn’t arrived
Withdrawals from bookies vary a lot timewise – sometimes the money will be in your bank the next day, sometimes it takes a week or so. Moneybookers is usually quicker than withdrawal to card. If the money hasn’t arrived within about a week there may be some sort of problem, the most usual being that ID is required. Some bookies will email you immediately when you try to withdraw, asking for ID. others will simply leave you wondering what has happened until you ask. Sometimes the money appears back in your account and sometimes not – it varies from bookie to bookie.
Occasionally when you ask for a large withdrawal by Moneybookers you may have to wait a while, since bookies tend not to upload funds from banks into Moneybookers, seeming to prefer to use other customers deposits to keep the thing flowing. Even a bookie the size of Ladbrokes has been known to delay Moneybookers withdrawals for this reason.
If the money hasn’t arrived after a week it is usually time to ask why – again I prefer phone or live chat for this, and I approach it with something like “I submitted a withdrawal request on x day and I notice my money is still in my account – is there a problem?”. It is perfectly normal for ID to be required, and alarm bells should only start to ring if they keep stalling and coming back for more. All you can really do is provide what they ask for (if possible) and if all else fails, contact SBR (or Casinomeister for casinos).
Account locked or closed
Some bookies lock random accounts and ask for ID. This can happen immediately after you sign up or after a few bets have been placed as well as after a request for a withdrawal. Some bookies (notably Australian ones) require ID to be sent within a specified number of days of opening your account. They will usually notify you by email that this is the reason for the locked account.
Another common reason or this is that they know you are arbing and have taken a “trading decision” to close you down. They refuse to discuss these at all, and point to their T&Cs which always say they have the right to close accounts without reason or explanation. They should always return your balance immediately.
Bookies will also close or suspend accounts if they suspect you are using a duplicate account or one belonging to someone else. This is where the real problems start to occur, as rogue bookies will use this condition to close down accounts they don’t like and confiscate the funds. This sort of behaviour is on the increase as bookies fight against “gnoming” and you should be wary of using internet which might be used by other people for betting (such as a friend or family member’s internet/computer or a public wifi). They also have clauses such as “recreational gambling” and professionals or cartels which they can use against you if you are arbing. I have never had money confiscated for arbing, although I have had accounts closed, but there are certainly some bookies who have been known to do this.
What to do when all else fails
Occasionally you may come to a point where you feel that despite all reasonable efforts to communicate with the bookie and provide them with ID, complete any wagering or provide evidence that they have settled a bet incorrectly, the bookmaker is refusing to budge.
If your problem involves a UK bookie you can take the dispute to The Independent Betting Adjudication Service, IBAS (http://www.ibas-uk.com/). They will make an independent decision based on the evidence, and registered bookies should abide by this decision. Most (but not all) UK bookies are members of IBAS, and if they are it should say so on the bookie website. UK bookies are regulated by the Gambling Commission, but IBAS is usually the better bet for sorting out disputes. Bookies licensed in the channel Islands or the Isle of Man are often also members of IBAS – these include bookies like Stan James and Paddy Power.
A full list of IBAS registered bookmakers is available here: http://www.ibas-uk.com/registeredOperators.php
With bookies licensed elsewhere you have a choice between the licensing authority and SBR, and you can try both. SBR (www.sportsbookreview.com) is probably a better place to start – most of the licensing authorities don’t appear to have many teeth when it comes down to a dispute. SBR will investigate your problem and liaise with the bookie, but there are times when the bookie refuses to co-operate (a recent example of this is Stryyke). Unless the bookie is in one of the higher ratings bands (A or B) you can expect a complaint to SBR to take some time to sort out – obviously this varies depending on the bookie. A low rated bookie has little to lose from bad reports on SBR.
If the bookie is on the Bookie List you can find out where the bookie is licensed from there – some are fairly good at hiding this information on their websites.
The following is a list of countries hosting online gambling sites catering to sports bettors published on Bookmakersreview. The links take you to information about that country’s licensing arrangements:
Aland Islands (Finland), Alderney (British Channel Islands), Anjouan (Comoros), Antigua & Barbuda, two provinces within Argentina, six Australian States and Territories, Austria,Belize, Cagayan Special Economic Zone (Philippines), Costa Rica, Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), Gibraltar, Ireland, Isle of Man, Malta, Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake (Canada),Panama, Seychelles, United Kingdom, Vanuatu.
You are strongly advised to steer well clear of any bookie “licensed” anywhere other than one of the places linked to above.
More information about jurisdictions can be found at http://www.gamblinglicenses.com/licensesDatabase.cfm
If your problem is with a casino rather than a bookmaker you will probably have more success with Casinomeister than SBR. There is a wealth of information at Casinomeister and you can submit a complaint in their “Pitch a Bitch” section http://www.casinomeister.com/problems.php. There are links on that page to various other contacts depending on the casino involved, such as ecogra and some of the software providers.
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