CMA will investigate bookmaker terms and conditions

Geegeez Readers Force Government Investigation into Bookie Practices

It has finally happened and, in part, it is down to you. This website, along with other parties - notably Horseracing Bettors' Forum and Justice4Punters - has been trumpeting the inequity in the bookmaker/bettor relationship for a number of years.

Subjects such as the unfairness of bookmaker terms and conditions (here and here), rule 4 manipulation, and iesnare (here and especially here) have been covered by our writers - and your responses have helped to force today's news that the Competition and Markets Authority is to investigate bookmaker practices.

In the more recent iesnare post on geegeez, published in May of this year, Brian Chappell outlined his experiences and urged readers to check their own machines (the original iesnare post has been read over 57,000 times so many of you have checked your machines!) and, if the unwelcome code was discovered, to contact the Information Commissioners' Office (ICO).

You did that in your scores, and it is at least partially as a result of that concerted lobbying that the CMA has committed to investigate the terms and conditions under which bookmakers operate.

It will not take them long to discover shockingly vague and unfair conditions such as "we automatically collect certain data" and "[we use the information] to meet certain business requirements". Those are from C.oral but they're just an example of the ridiculous bluster, presented as verbose legalese, which has been allowed to perpetuate unchecked in the online gambling space for too long.

There will be, or should be, bookmakers' legal departments scurrying around their bunkers in damage limitation mode this morning, because whatever the collective noun for chickens is... they're coming home to roost, en masse.

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I just wanted to pen this quick update, in case you'd missed the story, so that you know that your voices, when delivered in concert, can be heard far beyond these virtual pages. In this case, you've been a significant factor in a movement - driven by HBF and J4P - that has forced our Government to shine a light on how the betting industry operates.

Possible outcomes are no change (unlikely), revised terms and conditions (probable), or even a commitment to lay a bet to a fixed liability (unlikely, but possible).

This will be a story which takes its time to be told, and we'll be sure to update you on it here. For now, thank you for your part in helping to ensure it happened.


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8 replies
  1. Hugh Fowler says:

    Well done Matt, a single snowflake can start an avalanche and you may well have been that snowflake!

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      We certainly weren’t the first snowflakes, Hugh, but our ‘flurry’ will have caused the weathermen some consternation!

  2. David G. Smith says:

    Whilst a great effort has been made by punters, there will only be one out come – Bookies will win the day as they always do. You can’t move the pigs

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      I don’t believe that, David. I genuinely don’t. Without prejudging things, any level of focus on bookmaker terms will highlight plenty that simply wouldn’t stand up in court. At the very least, I feel they’ll be required to reduce, revise and demystify their terms. Hoping for more than that may be ambitious, but there is a clear message here that “we’re watching you” from government in an environment where bookmakers are again starting to be seen as a tolerable scourge rather than a taxation cash cow.

      But, naturally, time will tell.


  3. Gwyll says:

    I can see rules and conditions changing . And with any luck a guaranteed liability per punter. If the Aussies can do it so can we .But I also think the bookies will be working on loopholes even before anything has been decided

  4. Blokeshead says:

    Good on ya, Matt!

    You’re a good man (as is Chris, and doubtless the rest of your team too) in a very dodgy industry – good to know you’re on my/our side.

    Thank you.

  5. davewood53 says:

    Thanks Matt. This spyware is in my system because I note it scrolls up as data transfer info blips in the bottom corner of my screen when I logon to at least one major website (won’t name them because, via said spyware – they obviously know who I am!). I’ve tried to get rid of it or quarantine but lack the technical savvy to follow the guidance that you recommended way back. But the continued efforts by yourself is appreciated.

    On another note. At least one major bookmaking website is harbouring a very dodgy and bogus link purporting to be a flash player update, which of course it isn’t. I have notified the provider but other geegeez members may want to be aware and be advised only to update/upload flash player by first logging onto the Adobe site and treat with discretion and suspicion any link to flash updates from a bookmakers website.

  6. jethro says:

    Hi Matt,
    Very interesting article and thanks for keeping us all informed as always…
    One aspect which occurs to me however, is that we may end up worse off as punters, if the investigation results in the bookies having to be more “straight-up” so to speak. Over time with the advent of online betting and savvy websites such as Geegeez offering punters tips and tools to come out on the right side of the ledger, I imagine the bookies profits have been severely reduced, when compared to say 20 years ago. Their current tactics therefore, although completely underhand, are their attempt to keep the scales tipped in their favour.
    Therefore, if forced into tightening their belts and becoming more transparent, it seems obvious to me that the bookies are likely to react by being even more severe in the way of restricting or even closing individual punters accounts, at the first sign that an individual is not a mug punter! I for one have not used my own funds in the way of a deposit into my bookies accounts for over three years – I occasionally withdraw funds from one to top up another, or simply cream off the profits occasionally to my own bank account. No investigation will withdraw the right of a bookie to restrict or close their customers accounts without explanation.
    In summary therefore, while it is good to see the bookies held to account from a righteous point of view, my excitement is tempered in that I may be more likely to be shut down as a result!
    Just my slant on things anyway and keep up the great work. Best regards to you and yours…

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