Latest Cases - June 2012

 21st June 2012

Good afternoon, friends,

In this issue of Punters’ Verdict

  • The bookies run scared but wriggle out…
  • Football is main target for betting corruption…
  • Ladbrokes – intent on putting you off their brand…

The bookies run scared but wriggle out…

The opening race on the opening Day of the Royal Ascot fixture had the bookmaking industry running for cover.

Frankel was the hot favourite in the Queen Anne Stakes. Unbeaten in 10 races and with 6 Group 1 races wins already tucked under his substantial belt he was the horse every man and his dog wanted to be on.

Having been 1/3 the week before the race he was 1/5 in the overnight market, 1/6 on the morning of the race and by the time the runners were heading down the track to the stalls he’d been backed into 1/10. Whatever prices the industry went up with – however short – there were legions of punters determined to get their money down and back him.

But it wasn’t Frankel the bookies were worried about – at those prices they were never in any danger of accumulating liabilities they couldn’t afford to stand. What had got the bookies going were the each-way thieves in the market – the punters intent on taking advantage of Frankel’s short price by backing the best of his opponents to make the frame at big prices.

Of course the bookies were wise to the ploy and they did everything they could to make backing Frankel’s opponents to place as unattractive a proposition as they could manage. To the point where just before the off they were offering 5s and 10s about Excelebration and Strong Suit in the Win market – whilst the same horses could be backed at 16s and 38s to win on the exchanges.

Of course, bookmakers are businesses. And whilst we can laugh at the sight of the big layers caught wide-eyed and slack-jawed in the glare of the oncoming headlights, the situation served as a cast-iron illustration of just what bad value the bookmakers’ prices represent in such scenarios.

As it turned out the bookmaking industry’s collective shenanigans were justified – or at least half justified – with Ballydoyle’s Excelebration chasing Frankel home into 2nd-place once again.

Had the bookies been offering the same 16s in the Win market that you could get about him on the exchanges then the industry would have taken a kicking of gargantuan proportions – one they wouldn’t have easily shaken off.

So the bookies wriggled out of their dilemma with bad value prices and the moral of this little story is crystal clear: anybody who took a price about Excelebration or Strong suit actually winning the race with any one of the firms should either seek psychiatric assistance or make a note to open and use an exchange account when similar circumstances present themselves in the future.

Football is main target for betting corruption…

We all want the sports we bet on to be free of corruption. We want the results of sporting fixtures to be settled on merit – rather than on the machinations of fixers and crooks.

But as betting opportunities expand and the rewards of corruption become more tempting we punters are more at risk of putting our money down on bent matches and events than ever before.

And if the latest statistics on anti-sport corruption released by the European Sports Security Association (ESSA) can be believed then it is Football and Tennis punters who are most at risk.

  • Football accounts for 45% of the instances of suspicious betting patterns reported by Europe’s leading sports betting operators in 2011.
  • Tennis is next on the list – accounting for 33% of reported suspicious activity.

But no sport is safe. If you can bet on it then you can be sure there’s some shyster out there looking at ways of corrupting the outcomes. Sports as diverse as badminton, volleyball, darts and table tennis were all subject to the attentions of crooks and match-fixers during 2011.

Corruption in sports betting is not an issue that is going to go away any time soon. 

Ladbrokes – intent on putting you off their brand…

Ask a bookmaking industry executive what it is that makes a good television advert and he’ll probably tell you that EXTREME AND UNNCESSARY NOISE is an absolutely key ingredient.

I haven’t spoken to any bookmaking executives in reaching that conclusion – I’m careful about the company I keep. I’m basing my opinion solely on the content of the advertisements with which the bookmaking industry plagues our screens.

Take the Ladbroke’s advert that seems to appear in every commercial break during ITV’s Euro 2012 coverage – the one where some middle-aged moron is literally SCREAMING at Chris Kamara about the firm’s free £50 bet offer. If you haven’t already had your ear drums assaulted by it then turn up the sound and test your endurance levels right here. It’s almost as though Ladbrokes are trying to put punters off their brand.

But the annoyance doesn’t necessarily stop there. Actually acting on the advert and opening an online account with the firm isn’t necessarily any guarantee of getting the £50 free bet.

Verdict reader JR had a rarely-used telephone account with Ladbrokes many years ago – but having moved his betting operations online he opened an Internet-betting account with the firm, placed a few bets (losers) and sat back and waited for the free bet to be applied to his account.

It didn’t happen. He remained patient – placing a few more losing bets – before contacting Ladbrokes and asking where his free bet was. Only to receive a rather mystifying response – the basics of which was that he didn’t qualify because he already had 4 online betting accounts with Ladbrokes.

That was news to our man! He has no idea what Ladbrokes are talking about!

Okay,’ he told the Ladbrokes representative, ‘If I’ve got 4 accounts with you then how about consolidating the account balances in the new account?’ It’s a fair enough request from a valued customer with 4 accounts to his name. Ladbroke’s response? Radio silence.

Is ignoring the issue a new customer relations policy? Or are they just hoping JR will go away? Is this an isolated incident? Or are other punters opening betting accounts only to find they don’t qualify for the promised free bet – for confusing reasons that have no basis in reality?

The truth is we do not know. But we are interested in finding out. If you know something we don’t then be sure to get in touch and share your own experiences. Meanwhile, enjoy the adverts. We find that muting the volume improves the experience of Ladbroke’s advertisement tenfold!

I’ll be back with the Verdict next week.

The Judge

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