Bookmakers are urged to rethink closing down winning punters’ accounts

first_imgTopics Lord Lipsey’s suggestion was that, left untackled, the issue of restrictions and account closures might also lead to unwanted, severe regulatory intervention. “Bookmakers need to get a grip on this,” he told those present and his thoughts were echoed by Viscount Astor, sitting alongside him. “We should be congratulating winners, not denigrating them, if we want racing and betting to grow,” he said.Those comments seem to confirm the impression of recent years, that the bookmaker lobby in parliament is no longer so powerful or effective as it used to be. The betting industry was not strong in numbers here. Richard Flint, chief executive of Sky Bet, came to put the bookmaker’s perspective and struck a conciliatory tone.“The UK gambling industry, reputationally, isn’t in a good place and you’d have to be an unusual person to disagree with that,” he said afterwards. During his speech, he accepted that bookmakers should get better at communicating with customers at risk of being restricted or having their accounts closed, adding he was happy to work with the Horserace Bettors Forum on how that might be done.But he asserted that, as far as Sky Bet were concerned, “a tiny proportion” of customers were affected and that 97% went unrestricted, even though betting on horse racing was “growing very strongly”. “Contrary to myth, we don’t close accounts simply because a customer is winning,” he said.“We run a business, not a public service. We run it to be a commercial success. We must have the ability to say no to customers who we believe will be unprofitable for us in the longer term.” Reuse this content Share on WhatsApp ‘It matters more when there is money on it’ is a dangerous indoctrination BHA warns of risk to racing if roulette stake is cut to £2 maximum Support The Guardian But Flint did not immediately dismiss the suggestion of a “minimum bet” rule, which has been introduced in some states in Australia, requiring firms to lay advertised odds to a certain amount of money to any interested customer. However he suggested it would come at the expense of popular offers like “best odds guaranteed”, which in his view could not profitably be maintained alongside such a rule. He imagined a two-tier system, in which punters who still wanted access to such offers would have to relinquish their right to a minimum bet level.Simon Rowlands of the HBF said bookmakers were too quick to restrict customers or close them down “and the consequences for racing are harmful and are not being taken seriously enough”. Each account closure might represent a fan lost to racing, he said. Bruce Millington, editor of the Racing Post, said the problem was “affecting more punters than ever before” and that “a fair deal” was needed between the two sides.Philip Davies MP, who chaired the debate, said the all-party group “stands ready to be an honest broker between the sides and to facilitate further discussions”. news Thank you for your feedback. Hide Bookmakers were urged to “get a grip” on the subject of punters being restricted and having their accounts closed, as it was debated before a group of parliamentarians on Tuesday. A packed committee room in the House of Lords heard representatives of punters and bookmakers discuss the extent of the problem and what might be done, and the betting industry was urged by Lord Lipsey to start taking the issue seriously.“I have a slight feeling about this that it’s like the fixed odds betting terminals,” Lord Lipsey said, referring to a recent report which predicted the government will soon reduce the maximum stake for gaming machines in betting shops to just £2. This is a prospect that fills bookmakers with horror and wiped £660m off their stock market value on Monday. Was this helpful? 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