Latest Cases - November 2010

In this issue of Punters’ Verdict….

 
  • On with the black armbands, boys….
  • Fair play at Coral….
  • Hot head + big mouth = light pocket….
 
On with the black armbands, boys….
 
So farewell then to Paul, the punters’ octopus, whose life was cruelly cut short last week – just a few short months after coming to prominence as a ‘psychic’ football tipster of the highest order at the World Cup.
 
Back in June he correctly predicted the outcome of each of Germany’s six group and knockout stage games before opting for Spain to beat Holland in the final – finishing the tournament with a 100% tournament.
 
Maybe he was lucky to have lasted as long as he did. When he picked Spain to beat Germany at the semi-final stage there were widespread – and wholly serious - calls for him to be flung into a shark tank.
 
Never ones to miss out on free publicity – whether merited or not - William Hill claim they lost £500,000 to punters backing Paul’s picks. Rumours suggesting a bookmaking cartel took out a contract on the cephalopod are probably wide of the mark though.
 
Far be it from me to interfere with any investigation into the matter – but I’d be pointing Mr Plod toward the ranks of personalities behind the plethora of ‘expert’ football tipping services that permeate the gambling world.
 
Paul made 7 selections, produced 7 winners and he didn’t charge punters a single penny for his service. And, something which definitely isn’t the case with tipping services, we didn’t have to put up with a lot of undignified crowing from Paul about his successes. Maybe the football tipsters didn’t like the shining example he was setting?   
 
Fair play at Coral….
 
I’m quick to criticise bookmakers when they behave badly. In the spirit of fairness it’s only right to draw attention to the times they play fair – as Coral did with football punters in the North West this week.
 
Punters of my acquaintance were on maneuvers for most of Wednesday when it became apparent you could back Arsenal on the Coral midweek coupon at Even money to win at Newcastle in the Carling Cup. At the same time you could easily lay the bet back on the exchanges at 1.83 or 5/6.
 
Basically for every £100 you could get on with Coral you were able to guarantee yourself a £17 bet to nothing on Arsenal by laying off to the same stake at the shorter prices on the exchanges. Half a dozen punters spent most of Wednesday getting on as much as possible at as many Coral outlets as possible.
 
Everything went according to plan – including the Arsenal win – until punters turned up at Coral shops the next day expecting to be paid out at Evens. Coral were paying out at 4/5.
 
The explanation went something like this: ‘The price had changed. At the time the coupons we’re printed we didn’t have any team news. Once that came through we changed the price. Prices are subject to fluctuation.’
 
Now the punters concerned are no mugs. They were not going to accept this version of events – or the shafting it represented. Coral managers were made aware of some opposing arguments
 
1.    The price was advertised on each shop’s own coupons at Even money. If you’re going to advertise a price then have the decency and the spine to lay it.
2.    We know prices are subject to fluctuation. But as and when a price fluctuates it needs to be highlighted – either with manual corrections on the coupons themselves or by your cashiers at the point of bet. It wasn’t highlighted either way. Both of these issues revolve around staff knowledge and training – that’s your responsibility and not the punter’s. You must pay the price of your own errors.
3.    Okay, the coupons are printed a few days earlier than games are due to be played – and things change in the meantime. We appreciate that. But that knife cuts both ways. If Arsene Wenger had decided half an hour before the game to put out a team of Under 14s would you have paid out our bets at a bigger price? Of course you wouldn’t.
4.    The bets would not have been taken in the first place at 4/5 – and you can’t start deciding what price you want to pay out at after the results are known. A bet is a contract and the contract was Even money. Now get that till open and start counting out the money, mate.
 
There were a number of shops and managers having to deal with the situation. Most accepted – without question – the points made and were quick to acknowledge some degree of culpability.
 
In the first instance offers were made to pay out at 10/11 – as a gesture of goodwill. It was a decent enough gesture and some punters accepted that outcome. Others stood their ground and turned the offer down. That proved to be the best policy as Coral managers ultimately agreed to honour the bets at Even money – as was right and proper.
 
We shouldn’t really be slapping Coral on the back for doing what was obviously the right thing. But in the betting industry what’s ‘right’ happens a good deal less often than it ought to. And, in that context, the actions of the Coral shop mangers in honouring the bets at Even money should be noted.
 
Hothead + big mouth = light pocket….
 
Unfortunately, not everybody involved met with a satisfactory outcome – but he only has himself to blame.
 
The punter concerned is a Grade 1 hothead and when word reached him that Coral were trying to get away with paying out on his bets at 4/5 he grabbed his betting slips, sprinted down to his local Coral shop and, before staff even knew what he wanted, he was giving them both barrels – loosing off volley after volley of verbal abuse that took paint off the walls.
 
There was an awful lot of huffing and puffing, plenty of argy bargy and a barrage of empty threats and hollow promises. But all to no avail. The shop manager – having been subjected to dog’s abuse – was in no mood to play ball and refused to settle our hothead’s bets at any better than 4/5.
 
Once the anger had dissipated and it became clear the bookie was not for turning, our man had to take the settlement of 4/5 and leave the shop with his tail between his legs.
 
There’s a lesson to be learnt here. In a dispute with a bookmaker it is essential that you keep your cool. Shop managers and cashiers are human beings too and abusing them is not a smart move if you want your gripe to meet with understanding.
 
Argue the toss by all means. Dig your heels in if it’s necessary. But avoid shooting your mouth off and turning aggressive. It won’t win you any friends, it won’t influence people and, in all likelihood, you’ll go home lighter in the pocket than you would have if you’d done the decent thing and behaved like a gentleman.
 
Whose sorry now, hothead?
 
I’ll back with the Verdict next week.
 
‘The Judge’
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