One of punters’ biggest gripes at bookmakers over the years has been their predilection for closing or limiting the accounts of winning customers.
This has led to many bettors feeling the whole game is rigged against them, as not only can bookies set the odds in their favour but they can also shut you down if you win.
As a result there has been a backlash against the practice of closing or limiting accounts in recent years, led in part by groups such as the Horseracing Bettors Forum.
Such efforts have led to a successful campaign in Australia for example for the implementation of MBL (Minimum Bet Limit) of between AU$1,000 and AU$2,000 per race, depending on the class of race.
That means bookies have to accept bets with winnings up to those amounts, regardless of whether the punter has had their account restricted in the past.
This is great news for punters in Australia and we are starting to see a move in the same direction in the UK and Ireland, with a few bookies offering minimum bet guarantees (or “lay to lose” as it is also called) on horse racing.
Let’s take a look at which bookies have started to guarantee to lay bets on UK and Irish racing to win up to a certain amount.
Minimum Bet Guarantees UK Bookmakers
Here is the current state of play:
Bet Victor – A very comprehensive bet guarantee offer, Bet Victor will accept bets to win up to £500 on all UK and Irish races, from 11am on the day of the race.
This applies to both win and each-way bets and is provided as a separate Guaranteed Bet market alongside the normal markets.
Betfair Sportsbook – Similarly to Bet Victor, Betfair Sportsbook will accept bets to win up to £500 on all UK and Irish races, from 10am on the day of the race.
This is win-only though and does not cover each-way bets.
Skybet – This is a little more restrictive than the above two at the current time, with only class 1 and 2 races covered, but they will accept bets to win up to £500 from 10am onwards on the day of the race.
Coral/Ladbrokes – These two bookies currently only provide a minimum bet guarantee in their shops and not online.
They will accept bets to win up to £5,000 per customer (from 9am) – to include all Channel 4 races and up to £2,000 per customer (from 11am) – to include all non-televised Class 4 and above handicaps, Listed and Group/Graded races in the UK.
William Hill – trialed allowing bets to win up to £5,000 in shops and £1,000 online for races shown on ITV only. Further news is awaited as to whether this will become permanent.
[Please note all of the above are correct at the time of writing and subject to change. Please see the individual bookmakers for the terms and conditions of each offer].
Dawn of a New Age?
With a number of UK bookies now offering a minimum bet guarantee, it would appear to herald the dawn of a new age for the punter. Restricted accounts have been the bane of punters for years, ending the budding career of many successful and professional bettors and wrecking otherwise effective betting and trading strategies.
However, whilst the minimum bet guarantee is a welcome development, a number of questions about it still remain.
Firstly, it should be noted that with Bet Victor for example, sometimes the odds for the Bet Guarantee market are not as good as for the normal market. This does rather devalue the offer and we would hope that in time they will move to eliminate any difference and offer the same odds on the minimum bet market.
Secondly, will the bookies allow punters to use the minimum bet guarantee to arb, match bet and do other low-risk forms of betting/trading? There appears to be some contradiction in this, as whilst they say they will accept all bets, the bookies also have T&Cs saying they have the right to ban anyone who is arbing.
So what will they do? The evidence from forums we have seen is that so far the bookies seem to be allowing arbing, but it remains to be seen if that will continue to be the case.
Thirdly, will this expand to cover a wider timeframe? Much of the value in horse racing is in the evening before racing, but it is questionable whether bookies would be willing to offer a minimum bet guarantee for early prices. If they did it would be a very positive development for punters.
And will other sports be offered too or will this just be restricted to horse racing? In Australia they have recently moved to expand the MBL to cover greyhound racing, which is encouraging. It would be great to see it expand to cover sports like football, tennis and golf too.
Ultimately it will take some time to see how this all plays out and whether it will herald a new age for the punter, but the fact that a number of bookies and offering a “lay to lose”/minimum bet guarantee is very welcome news and hopefully is a sign of more to come.