Settling a Bookie dispute

How to Settle a Dispute with a Bookmaker

Settling a Bookie dispute

Settling a Bookie dispute

Bookmakers, like punters, are far from infallible. They have more rigid rules for their business operations, for sure. But, occasionally, things drop between the cracks, or are simply misinterpreted. These occasions costs punters money, frustrate them, and damage the pivotal trust relationship between punter and bookmaker.

The good news is that if you think your bet has been mis-settled (and it is almost always this which leads to dispute), there is an independent mediation body. IBAS, the Independent Betting Adjudication Service, has been in existence since 1998 and covers a wide range of disputes, from gaming machines to greyhound stadia to lotteries to online betting.

After an adult lifetime - 25 years and counting - spent betting, I'd never previously had recourse to question the settlement of a wager, which is testament to how solid the trust relationship between punter and bookie generally is. Solid, but not impermeable, as I was recently reminded.

As regular readers will know, I write long-form previews of the big race meetings, and Epsom's Derby day card was one such. In the opening race, I really fancied a horse called Stravagante. I'd backed him the day before at 3/1, a price I considered huge, for a stake of £400.

Now, the first thing to say is that - again, as regular readers will know - I'm not a big time punter. That stake represented my biggest wager of the year so far. To be honest, that's irrelevant to this piece, except that it led to a situation which was sufficiently financially piquing to impel some action.

Here's why: I struck the bet with tote sport in their 'day of race' market. That market means some punters are eligible for Best Odds Guaranteed, a concession still available to me with this layer. This is important, because a) I made the bets - 2 x £200 - at 11:22am and 11:23am the day before racing; and, b) I placed them in 'day of race' markets, as per the digital slips below:


Bet 1

Bet 1

Bet 1

Bet 2


Note the "Day of Race" comments on the market part.

Here are (or, were, as I expect them to be changed now) tote sport's published rules on this:

Totesport's Best Odds Guaranteed terms

Tote sport's Best Odds Guaranteed terms


You don't need to read them, because I can tell you that there is no stipulation excluding a bet placed early in a 'day of race' market from the BOG concession.

Why is that relevant anyway?

Stravagante, the horse I considered a huge price at 3/1, absolutely hosed up (Racing Post comment was "strong run to lead over 1f out, drifting left but ran on strongly final furlong, readily") at 7/2. He won by over three lengths.

I could scarcely believe the price, having expected the horse to be sent off around 7/4 or 2/1 favourite, and was pleased with what would be an extra £200 profit on the bet.

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Sadly, tote sport disagreed and, despite my calls to their customer support team, were unwavering (and dismissive) in their contention that the bet had been correctly settled.

For the first time in 25 years, I contacted IBAS. Extremely professionally run so far as I can tell, I was perfectly happy to abide by whatever decision they arrived at, and had confided as much to friends.

Having submitted my case on 9th June, I received acknowledgement a few days later; and then due process began. That involved IBAS contacting the bookmaker in question and asking for their response to the dispute claim.

Yesterday, I received a letter - copied below in full - with the outcome of my case. [You can click the images to open full screen]


IBAS Cover Letter

IBAS Cover Letter

IBAS Settlement #1

IBAS Settlement #1

IBAS Settlement #2

IBAS Settlement #2


The final statement, "The Panel have, therefore, adjudicated for the customer", means the outcome was in my - the punter's - favour. I'll be honest: I wasn't at all surprised and, far from being chuffed about the money, I was actually delighted that a bookmaker could be brought to account for what I considered a very straightforward 'cut and dried' case.

Quite simply, there was NOTHING in tote sport's terms and conditions on which to base their decision. And forcing me to seek independent ratification of that was, in my view, tantamount to an expectation that I'd not do anything and they'd 'get away with it'.

It perhaps goes without saying that I'm still waiting to get paid out by tote sport, though in fairness to them they will probably only have received their response from IBAS yesterday as well.


This is not a story about my experience as much as it is an encouragement to anyone who feels hard done to that challenge can be made about a perceived bet mis-settlement. Obviously, there needs to be a base for the claim, and that will more often than not lie in the bookmakers' terms and conditions. Or, as in this case, not in the bookmaker's terms and conditions.

IBAS can only adjudicate if you're able to put a credible case together and, often enough, that's a fairly simple matter for the aggrieved to do.

IBAS can be contacted via their website, here.


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35 replies
  1. Blokeshead says:

    Good on ya, Matt.

    An interesting read, albeit one I hope I never need to refer to in the future. But, if I ever do, it’ll be good to know it’s there.

    • terence rees says:

      Hi Matt “BRILLIANT” thank’s for thinking of other people who might benefit from this.There’s not many of your type around these days,good luck,best regards,Terry R.

  2. william gibson says:

    Good news to hear of a bookmaker being put in place by a higher authority.

    Most punters would have been pleased to get the winner but congrats on sticking to your guns Matt.

    This sort of outcome needs to be widely reported and lauded in the Racing Post and the sports pages of the general press as you can be sure that the bookies will have been getting away with it for years and years and possibly for 100’s of £1000’s regularly, of punters hard earned money.

    The only smack on the wrist I would suggest though is that it returned 6.38 on Betfair resulting in another £660 returns on your earnings less your Betfair commission of course.

    An interesting point on the returns though was that the bookmakers industry over round was 121% whereas Betfair had an under round of 98%.

    Regardless good luck with the next one Matt and keep up the good work with the best site on the web.


    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Good grief, Bill, I wish you hadn’t told me that! Could have happily gone to my grave without knowing. :-/

      More seriously, I took the view – as I’ve said – that the price was wrong, a view borne out by the result, but not the starting prices (industry or Betfair), sadly.


  3. Ifonly says:

    Bookies are good at wriggling… make insurance companies look like amateurs.
    I have a dispute with BetBright who were unable to allow me to withdraw on my debit card despite taking my deposit from the same card. I have had no problem with withdrawals on the same card from other bookies.
    I had to withdraw using bank transfers which incurred charges from my bank. BetBright messed up and sent two transfers instead of one, thus costing me twice as much.
    I want them to reimburse me for their error but to do so they want to see my bank statemnets, which I am unwilling to provide.
    I have asked several times for them to tell me the regulatory authority to whom I can complain but they have consistently refused this request.
    Does anyone know who the regulatory authority is for this type of dispute? I think it might be The Gambling Commission and not IBAS as it is not a bet dispute.

  4. Doshtosh says:

    Excellent read and fair play to you for following things through, also fair play to IBAS for dealing with the matter in the correct way, As for Totesport, I’ve, already pissed them off, without recourse to IBAS, but with a bit of help from the form book and geegeez’s brilliant site, so they won’t, ever, cause me any problems.

  5. Sgtmajor says:

    I used them to recover winnings from an on course bookie that I had forgotten to collect my winnings from on the day of racing. It is something to remember for anyone that maybe you spend too much time in the bar and misses a race and when you wake up the next day find out that you had a winner and think you will not get your winnings. Dont throw the ticket away, contact IBAS.

  6. John Shuff says:

    Well done Matt,
    I wonder if all punters who fall fowl of the bookies were to follow your lead, would the bookies be more considerate??? I doubt it, though you never know now that GG’s members are aware that challenges can be made and won.
    One up for the punters Matt.
    Again well done.
    John S.

  7. brendan renehan says:

    They are good at adjudicating when there is no doubt that the bookie is in the wrong, as in this case.

    I took a case to them when I had backed Justin Rose to win the open golf and he failed to qualify for it. Sportingbet refused to refund my bet as a non runner as I thought any fair bookie would do. IBAS adjudicated in favour of the bookie saying He did actually play in the open, but just failed to qualify for the final four days ! Unbelievable nonsense in my view!

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Brendan

      Without knowing all of the facts, I’m afraid I’d be with IBAS on this one…!


  8. Wendy Hampson says:

    Congratulations Matt and well done. Don’t think I’ll be betting with them on that basis.

  9. sondrio2 says:

    very interesting matt, it could well have happened to many of us, to be honest i dont always check my returns but i certainly will from now on.
    does it cost a fee to make claim, just curious.
    thanks for the article, as usual very enlightening.

  10. otterman says:

    Very well done Matt. How Totesport can come up with such drivel about migration anomalies beggars belief. What is the point of a bet receipt if it does not clearly state the terms of a bet.

    I’m sure you’ll get your money but – having stuck your head above the parapet – probably an account closure as well. I have avoided complaining in the past about unfair bet settlements but then I was only looking at about 200 pence not 200 pounds!

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Not too worried about the account closure, otterman. I used to bet with them mainly for the tote itself, and they’re rarely top price for anything more than a tenner in any case. They are a bit of a nonsense bookmaker these days. Think I could open a firm and lay more than them!


  11. Tom Collins says:

    It’s called “Beating them at their own Game”! Congrats on pursuing the matter – your persistence paid off. The small man can still wield the cudgel! Keep up your good, and appreciated, work.

  12. Wilf MacD says:

    Congratulations. In 30 years of betting I have never known IBAS rule in favour of the customer, but to be fair, it was a very straightforward case and clearly you were right.

    Its pretty poor of the TOTE to try it on, and almost indicative of the numbers of times IBAS rule in bookies favour.

    Lets be realistic IBAS is funded by bookies so its only ever going one way if there is any wriggle room. In this case there was none, but they still tried it on.

    I wonder, did you mention in your complaint letter how many thousands of punters you have access to by way of GGs and how it could affect their business???!!

    You also have that distinct advantage over the rest of us!

    Either way, well done

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Wilf

      I certainly didn’t mention geegeez, as I don’t think it has any relevance. IBAS are independent, I have no doubt about that. I also suspect that a lot of what they’re asked to consider is obviously not worthy of consideration in the first place (i.e. it is clear that the bookie’s terms cover it).

      tote still tried to wriggle off the hook despite having no leg to stand on within their T’s and C’s, and that part is extremely disappointed. Their trading room is, I imagine, the same as Bet fred, and that says a lot, in my opinion. They’re not a great company with which to do business as far as I can tell.


  13. msimms says:

    I had a similar problem with Coral yesterday. I placed a bet at 5/2 which won at SP 7/2, but apparently as I’d placed it through the third-party Racing Post betslip I wasn’t ‘guaranteed returns at best price’. Luckily though my bet wasn’t nearly a large as yours and they paid me out at the higher price.

    Although they basically told me not to use the Racing Post betslip in the future which begs the question of why it’s even there. Just though people should be aware of this problem.

    • Henry Gondorff says:

      Many sites appear to be punter friendly, but in reality are only there for their affiliate commission on losing accounts.

      I dislike saying this. as the RP does provide masses of information for all, but it does rely heavily on bookmaker income now and it should be made clear when T&Cs are changed by not betting directly. The most obvious abuse of affiliates is where a site offers a free bet with a bookmaker for signing up, but there are better offers for the same bookmaker elsewhere.

      There are enough ‘dodgy’, in my opinion appalling T&Cs at source, i.e. bookmaker ones, without making it worse by using an intermediary.

  14. bluebee says:

    Back in the seventys I placed an e/w patent bet when I gave my bet to the cashier they informed me that one of my selections was a non-runner
    and to select a replacement horse.

    Being busy at the time I did pick another horse, when I checked how my bet had got on in the sunday paper I discovered that I had to winners at 16/1 and 12/1, and when I checked the rest of the results my original selection in my bet was a 20/1 winner at another meeting.

    On the Monday I took my bet back to the shop and pointed out to the manager what had happened and when he checked the bet his decision was
    that I had included a non-runner in my bet and chose an alternative selection which was unplaced so would only pay me out on the two winners, which I declined and was advised by a friend to raise a dispute with the IBOS which I did.
    Matt what do you think the outcome was?

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Sorry, bluebee, it wasn’t my intention to be some sort of surrogate IBAS. So I don’t know the answer to your question. Or any other bet dispute question.

      I was merely trying to highlight that there is an arbitration service, and they are fair.


      p.s. I would have found in favour of the bookie based on what you have said about your case. When notified of the NR by the cashier, you could have placed the bet anyway, which would have been settled with two winners and NR; or you could have identified that the horse was doubly engaged and nominate for the other meeting; or you could have replaced the NR with another selection.

      All were absolutely fine/legitimate. Would you have had a problem if the initially named horse *didn’t* win at the other meeting?

  15. James Cross says:


    I like your idea of setting up a bookie firm. There must be a gap in the market with the big firms acting as risk management companies rather than bookmakers these days.

    It seems straightforward to me. Guaranteee to lay all horses to lose £1,000 to every customer and cut the price when you see some smart money, rather than restricting people to stupid amounts. You could offer best priced guarantee for bets up to say £100 to accommodate the smaller punter and the usual concession of paying out on disqualified winners.

    Where would the competition be to a firm like that?

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi James

      I’m afraid the barriers to entry are very high. Getting the software platform in place is around a million quid, then you need traders, customer support, and so on. It’s not quite the same as setting up a bookie shop and taking a few phone bets (though believe me I’ve thought about doing that in the past!!)


  16. Martin Clarke says:

    Very interesting Matt, and thank you for posting the details: all saved for future reference.
    Do you think Tote would have “tried it on” in the old days before Bet Fred?
    Anyway your report has obviously triggered a huge response, so not a bad thing.
    All power to your elbow.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Martin

      It’s conjecture – and worth nothing as a result – but I actually don’t think tote would have been so stubborn in the face of no evidence in the pre-Fred days.

      Thanks for the kind words.


  17. paul says:

    How about BetVictor? Took my deposit, had a few winners and losers, made a few quid, tried to withdraw £20……Sorry!!! you need to provide a scan of your driving licence or passport. Problem…I’m 80 years old and have neither of these items and no intention of getting them, so I guess Victor will just watch my money add interest to his bank account along with all the other sucker’s monies of those that have fallen into his trap. BTW..I have 7 other accounts and none of them have subjected me to this nonsense…of course I keep well away from Betfred, don’t want to be restricted to £5 maximum stakes should I hit a couple of winners!

    Top article Matt.

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Paul

      That’s a genuine issue, and one which Victor should be able to assist. They will probably accept copies of utility bills or a credit card bill/bank statement with your name and address on it. Obviously, I don’t work for them, so I can’t vouch for that, but there HAS to be a way for you to get your money out if you want to.


  18. Brian says:

    I too have had a good experience with IBAS and would recommend them to anyone with a genuine grievance against a bookie.

    In my case, Boylesports had advertised a risk-free bet. If your bet on the 1.35 at Chester lost they would give you a free bet for the same stake up to £25 on the 3.45. They refused to give me the free bet because traders had excluded me from racing promotions. They had never told me this before and referred me to a rule stating that they reserved the right to impose restrictions without prior notice and, because I had ticked a box stating I had read their terms & conditions when I opened my account, this meant I had accepted the condition.

    I referred it to IBAS on the basis that I had no way of knowing about the restriction when I placed my bet and Boylesports accepted the bet without telling me I was disqualified from the promotion. I received a reply 10 days later stating that Boylesports had placed the free bet in my account. No apology from Boylesports though!

  19. jimmy says:

    Well done Matt but I fear it might cost you more in the long run, your account will be closely monitored now.

  20. James Cross says:

    Nothing to a man of your means surely Matt? 🙂

    I’d pitch in with a few thousand lol

    • Matt Bisogno says:

      If only…

      It’s fair to say that if I was in this game for the money, things would be run quite a bit differently! 😉


  21. bluebee says:

    Hello again Matt

    I was interested in your opinion as to what was the outcome of my appeal to the IBAS. and what you said was more or less what they
    told me.

    Ever since then I have been extra vigilant when checking n/r,and hope that my example may warn others to do the same especially at bank holiday when there are so many meetings.
    thanks for your reply Matt


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