If you are using a respectable bookmaker such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Bwin, Betfred or one of the many other highly rated bookmakers, there is fundamentally no chance that you are likely to be scammed. These bookmakers’ very existence is based on their good reputation and they would quickly be out of business if they were found to be scamming their clients.
But not all bookmakers fall into this category. In some countries the betting regulations are considerably less strict than in the UK. This can make it much easier for new bookmakers to enter the market and this can attract the kind of bookmaker it is generally better to avoid.
However, this is easier said than done. Today there are so many online bookmakers that it can be difficult to discover exactly who you are dealing with. Often they have attractive offers, better odds and tempting promotions that provides them with a competitive advantage over the more conventional bookmakers.
So should you avoid all of these and ignore their offers and promotions? Of course not – most of them are likely to be genuine; nobody wants to turn down a genuine bargain if it’s real. The adage of not looking a gift horse in the mouth is a real one.
We might follow this with something like “there is no such thing as a free lunch” which is also usually true, but by exercising a reasonable amount of caution there is no reason why you can’t “have your cake and eat it”.
OK, that’s it with the clichés, let’s get down to some fundamentals regarding how to spot and avoid potential bookie-related scams.
Read the small print
Always, always read the small print. For instance if a bookmaker is offering you a bonus for signing up to their website, , what are the rules regarding withdrawing the winnings you make betting with this bonus?
While most bookmakers do not allow you to withdraw your bonus winnings until you have played them through a minimum number of times, sometimes the rules are so onerous that you have a minimal chance of ever seeing a profit.
The takeaway is study the rules until you are confident you understand them (they can be written in obscure language designed to create ambiguity) and that you are happy with them. How do they compare with similar offers from other bookmakers? Do other websites and forums have anything to say about them? A little research can go a long way in keeping you safe.
Is the offer realistic?
Yes, we said that was enough clichés, but we can’t avoid “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. If the offer of a bonus, free bets or anything else seems unrealistically good, then beware because there is likely to be a catch somewhere. But how do you know if it really is unrealistic? Perhaps the bookmaker is making an extravagant offer to attract new customers and you don’t want to miss out. And why should you? Ultimately it is up to you, but fundamentally it is a case of caveat emptor (Let the buyer beware). But at least do some research and, as we have said, read the small print, and then read it again.
Does the bookmaker have a tarnished reputation for withdrawal delays?
Bookmakers don’t like paying you money even when you have won it and it is rightfully yours. Fortunately they have no choice; if your winnings are not subject to playthrough regulations you should be able to withdraw your winnings when you wish. While the bookmaker is likely to prefer that you kept your money in your online account, they must give you access to your own cash.
It should take no longer than a couple of working days to process your withdrawal request; at the very most is should take no longer than five. Despite this some bookmakers will attempt to hold on to your cash considerably longer while they claim that your request is “being processed”. If you are trying to withdraw a large amount of money this can be extremely frustrating and costly.
Even some otherwise reputable bookmakers are guilty of holding on to their customers’ money longer than they should. Recently a bookmaker faced legal action for refusing to allow a punter to withdraw £54,000 from her account for over two months.
The Dormant Account Scam
This is another example of paying attention to the small print. Imagine you have £10,000 in your account but you don’t feel like placing any bets at the moment. Did you know that some bookmakers will charge your account a significant amount of money if you don’t place any bets? These so-called administration fees can be as high as 5% every 28 days, so lay off betting for a couple of months and your £10,000 will have been whittled down to £9,000.
Of course you could withdraw your money, but that assumes the bookmaker will allow you to do so; see our previous comments on withdrawal delays.
Finally some takeaway advice on avoiding scams:
- – Ensure that you only use bookmakers who are correctly regulated. It is easy to find out this information. It should be displayed in their “about us” page or you can check it out on the appropriate gambling authority such as the UKGC, the MGA or the GLA.
- – Do some research – what do other punters on the various forums have to say about your bookmaker – while it isn’t necessarily true it is often the case that where there’s smoke there’s fire (last cliché).
- – As we have said several times, ensure you acquaint yourself fully with the small print. Yes, it’s boring but it is the best way to avoid disappointment.
- – Don’t accept excuses for delayed withdrawal of your money. They have no legal right to delay repaying you money that is properly yours. If you believe they are acting unfairly, report them to the appropriate gambling authority.