Latest Cases - February 2011

2nd February 2011

Good afternoon, friends,

In this issue of Punters' Verdict:

  • Hoodwinking the unsuspecting punter....
  • The devil in the detail....
  • Monty Python couldn't make it up....
  • The Judge Directs....

Hoodwinking the unsuspecting punter....

When it comes to hoodwinking there is no finer exponent of the art
than the average bookmaker.

Take 888sport, for example. They were all over the back page of
last week's Raceform Update offering punters a 'NO LOSE BET! Up to
£20'. 

'You can't lose, guvnor.' That's the message they want you to take
away. Open an online betting account with kind-hearted 888sport and
if your first bet goes down then we'll refund your stake up to a
value of £20. That's the way they like to present it.

The reality is a little bit different though. Sure, if your first
bet of £20 goes down they'll credit your account with the refunded
stake.

But.... you won't be able to withdraw it. Oh no. You'll only be
able to withdraw your £20 after you've risked it AGAIN by placing
another bet with 888sport (a bet where the stake WON'T be refunded
if your selection goes down).

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking the same thing I
thought. 'What's to stop me backing a 1/50 shot in my second bet
(as close to a 'cert' as it gets in betting) and then withdrawing
my £20 stake when that selection comes in?'

Plenty as it happens - if you read the Terms and Conditions of the
offer. Your second bet must be wagered at minimum odds of 1/5.

It's not quite what the advertisement suggested is it? The ad
suggests you can't lose - that 888sport are giving you a free no-
lose £20 betting opportunity.

The advertisement suggests (though doesn't implicitly state) that
choosing to do business with 888sport - at least in the first
instance - is somehow risk-free. It isn't. To walk away with your
stake intact you MUST risk losing it.

Okay, you can bet on a 1/5 shot - but the fact is 1/5 shots get
turned over. The fact is your stake is at risk. The fact is you CAN
LOSE
your £20 stake - whatever the advert implied, suggested or
inferred.

The devil is in the detail....

It's a situation that illustrates the importance of reading any
Terms and Conditions attached to a bookmaker's promotional offer
.
The devil will always be found in the detail.

Now, the bookie doesn't want you to read the Terms and Conditions.
He hopes you won't. In fact, he's kind of depending on it. And the
bottom line is that he knows the odds are in his favour.

The bookmaker knows that most punters are too busy, too lazy or too
badly informed to bother. They read the headline grabbing claim,
look no further and get sucked into a scenario with a nasty sting
in its tail.

Wise up to these tricks. If you're daft enough to take a
bookmaker's grandiose promotional claims at face value than you can
be assured the bookmaker is ruthless enough to take you for a mug.

I wonder just how many punters who took the bait from the Raceform
Update
advertisement are now feeling the pain this morning from
that dirty great hook stuck in their mouths?

I wonder just how many punters are now desperately searching for a
winning short-price bet to enable them to recover their initial £20
stake from 888sport's grasp? I just hope you're not one of them.

Monty Python couldn't make it up....

Posing as the Patron Saint of punters and appearing to 'give' -
whilst doing nothing of the sort - is the promotional strategy of
choice right across the betting industry at the moment.

Paddy Power has definitely bought into the concept. During a
commercial break in C4's coverage of the Festival Trials meeting at
Cheltenham on Saturday, Paddy Power's advert promised new telephone
betting account holders a £100 free bet when they staked their
first £50 bet - on the face of it an opportunity to bet with £50 of
the bookmaker's money.

I gave them a call this morning - to find out more. As phone calls
go it was the closest thing I've experienced to being part of a
Monty Python sketch. It went something like this:

The Judge: 'I'm interested in your offer for new account holders.'

PP: 'I'm sorry; I can't tell you about that, Sir.'

The Judge: 'What do you mean?'

PP: 'I can't tell you about that, Sir. I don't know which offer
you're referring to.'

The Judge: 'It was on the TV on Saturday afternoon.'

PP: 'I don't know about that, Sir.'

The Judge: 'Let me get this straight. You haven't got a clue what
the account opening offer is?'

PP: 'I do have a clue, sir. But I can't tell you. We can't just
talk about offers. The marketing department has to be able to track
which offer you're responding to. There's a lot of different
affiliate offers out there, Sir.'

The Judge: 'It was on the TV on Saturday.'

PP: 'The best thing to do is to type 'Paddy Power offers' into
Google and see what comes up.'

The Judge: 'You offered a £100 free bet for the first £50 staked.'

PP: (Pause) 'That's for people opening new telephone betting
accounts.'

The Judge: 'That's what I'm interested in.'

PP: (Pause) 'Right. Yes, sir. That's the offer.'

Welshing on the deal....

I must stress that my transcript of the call is not verbatim - but
it's not far away either.

So what's going on here? It might seem like the guy on the other
end of the phone doesn't know what he's doing. But that would miss
the point. He knows exactly what he's doing
. He's making it as
difficult as he can for me to get hold of what it is I want - the
offer they trumpeted from the rooftops on Saturday.

It's another trick the bookmaker commonly pulls on punters - be
seen to be the big man offering punters the World and then move
hell and high-water not to deliver what has been promised.

Note how the contact centre operator only started to see the light
when I quoted the exact offer to him? Whilst he's free to confuse,
obfuscate and muddy the waters, he isn't able to deny the truth
once it's baldly put to him.

Most punters wouldn't take that step. Most would have simply opened
an account - assuming the bookmaker would make good on Saturday's
promotional offer - and then ended up with a lesser deal or, quite
possibly, no deal at all.

Others would have taken the almost surreal 'Use Google' advice and
experienced the same outcome - a lesser deal than the one promised
on the TV advert.

The lesson here is that you can't trust a bookmaker as far as you
can kick him
. You cannot rely on him to be true to his word off his
own bat. You have to put him in a position where he has no option
but to make good on his big promises
. If you give him half a chance
he'll deny he's ever made them. 

The advice is to always know your facts - as well as he does, if
not better - stand your ground and play hardball until you get what
you want. 

The Judge Directs....

It is my view that competition between bookmakers for market share
is so tough right now that the days of bona fide 'No Lose Bet'
offers are not too far away.

When Skybet (a firm I think of as the meanest operator out there)
is offering new account holders free £5 bets and an additional £10
matched bet - as they were on Saturday on the Sporting Life website
- then the fight for business really must be tooth and nail.

At the moment we're in a kind of 'build up' period where most
bookmakers are hoping that what appear to be 'no lose bets' will
somehow be accepted by punters as the real thing.

They won't be. Punters are not as daft as bookmakers think they are
or would like them to be. Sooner or later the penny will drop in
the bookmakers' boardrooms and they'll have to start offering
genuine 'No Lose Bets' to incentivise punters to open accounts and
bet with them. Those who refuse will be left behind.

I can say it will happen with some confidence because we are
already witnessing the start of the trend
. The major players - the
household names - might not be playing ball at the moment. But one
New Kid on the Block is showing the way.

I don't know too much about Betclic - based in Malta and using ex-
Chelsea defender Marcel Desailly as their brand ambassador - but
the major sportsbooks in this country will be sitting up and taking
notice.

Right now Betclic are the only outfit on the Internet who offer a
genuine 'No Lose Bet' to punters signing up with them for a betting
account.

You open an account, place your first bet up to £20, and if you
lose they refund the stake - at which point you are free to
withdraw it again. There are no strings attached.

With the Champions League knock-out stages and the Cheltenham
Festival just around the corner, it's a great opportunity to strike
a risk-free bet with the bookmaker's own money. Can't be bad.

Take a look at the Betclic site for youself - and their risk-free
£20 bet offer - here:

www.Betclic.com

Is this the future of account opening offers? Let's hope so. Memo
to 888sport
: take note!

I'll back with the Verdict next week.

The Judge

www.PuntersVerdict.co.uk

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