Why Do Bookmakers Limit Accounts?

Why do online bookmakers limit customer accounts? In the pursuit of beating the bookies, punters can find their accounts factored before they get too far on top. Today on the blog Stephen gives us five reasons why some bookmakers are quick to limit your action.

It is the all too common a cry amongst punters across the country, or at least any punter with a modicum of skill or discipline about their betting: “I can’t get a bet on”…”I was offered £3.22 when I wanted £25 each-way”…”They offered me SP only and then didn’t move the price”.

So what is behind this crackdown on punters that firms view as so hot and lethal that they cannot even lay them a half decent bet at the advertised price? Here I will offer five explanations from both sides of the fence taking a look at this ever increasing problem for all punters.

1. The arrival of high margin products such as casino and games

Games and casino products online, or FOBT’s (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals) in betting shops, make a very high margin and it is absolutely guaranteed every single day. These new products are the dream for all people high up in bookmaking companies, as the more ingenious and attractive they are, the more money they rake in.

Why on earth try to grow horse racing turnover when you are stepping into a hornets nest of shrewdies and arbers, when you can happily and cheaply “win” 10-20pc of your gaming turnover? No need for trading meetings, culling accounts, customer service confrontations or complex decision making, just pay the IT technicians to dream up another variation on roulette or poker to satisfy the ever-growing worldwide market in “recreational punters”.

2. The internet has made us all disloyal “price tarts” in the eyes of bookmakers

With the advent of betting exchanges and the explosion in low margin bookmakers such as Pinnacle or SBO, it has become possible for price savvy punters to have bets without any margin against them. They are basically getting Evens about a coin-toss and, at times by shopping around and trading effectively, they are getting 11-10.

Running a bookmaking business is amazingly expensive. A fledgling firm that I worked for in Malta had enormous wage bills/IT bills/customer service department etc etc. In relation to its small turnover on sport, it had no chance whatsoever of coming close to breaking even. The business model was completely reliant on the games to pay the bills. Putting up prices on well known price-comparison sites, merely locks in an army of “arbers” to swarm all over the site if a price ever slips over the “exchange” price. It was a recipe for one sided books on the wrong side of the market.

In short it is virtually impossible to survive as a genuine bookmaker unless one has a huge army of loyal, inelastic punters who just want a bet on what’s on TV. Playing against a move on Betfair can only end one way, with the company losing money and the “winning” punters getting their accounts chopped to pieces at a fraught Monday morning trading meeting.

Cultivating a recreational punting base has become the aim of go-ahead firms such as Bet365 and Ladbrokes. Take a look at their adverts in the middle of every televised match. They are aggressively courting the 20 year old male, beer in hand, watching the game with his mates. He might think 5-1 about Wayne Rooney scoring next is an attractive price for his £20 interest bet (it might be 8-1 on Betfair but then he hasn’t heard of Betfair yet) and these are exactly the high profit, multi-sport betting punters that all companies love.

Put simply, a bookmaker would love to take a total £30,000 at 5-1 on Rooney scoring next when they know the correct price is much bigger, and furthermore, by having a bet of this nature, a punter is flagging himself up as exactly the type of player that the firms want. If this huge largely untapped market is out there and can be captured, why do firms such as Bet365 need to play the warm people at all? The truth is they don’t.

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