An Open Letter to Governments About Betting Companies

It’s been over a year since I started betting, and it’s a habit I love. Personally I’m a cricket man — I focus on betting on the players, the runs scored and the results. Cricket is a good sport to introduce statistics and analysis into. It lets you understand which players are on form, where they’re good and where they are bad.

The immense time of an innings (particularly a test match) means that for the most part, numbers generally win out. It’s far harder to stuff up if you have to bowl 60 balls or score 60 runs.

But there’s an insidious thing happening with bookmakers today: account restrictions. They’re the reason betting companies are so insanely profitable, and in my view, completely disgusting entities.

What is an account restriction?

An account restriction is simple. Certain accounts have restrictions placed on when, how and why they can bet. Certain categories may be restricted or you might even be banned altogether.

This can range across a heap of different options for the betting company. They can limit how much you can bet on the cricket, for example. They could limit your overall stake in bets. They can ban you from betting in certain categories.

The list goes on. But the critical (and important) thing is that these companies happily can limit which punters are betting and when.

Why do punters have their accounts restricted?

There are two cases where punters can have their accounts restricted: fraud or winning.

Fraud is pretty simply explained. It’s when someone has inside information, and is abusing it to beat the bookies. It’s a little like insider trading, and is especially rife in sports where inconsequential things don’t mean much (i.e a no-ball in cricket or a fault in tennis).

But most cases have nothing to do with fraud. Instead, they’re more to do with success. Companies will actively stamp out people who are succeeding on the platform.

This could be the especially clever cricket punter. Or the person intimately familiar with horse racing form. Anyone who succeeds on these platforms doesn’t just content with the bookies’ odds — they also contend with being banned if they win.

It’s like that other trick casinos run when they ban ‘advantage players’ for making money. Frankly, they should just have to take the risk.

This is at the heart of an anti-competitive monopoly

The sad thing about these gambling companies is, as a result of their behavior, there is no way for them to lose money. Betting companies in particular should recognize this. They’re allowed to profit off the chance of someone winning, only to lock people out when they actually do.

That’s anti-competitive behavior. Why? They’re being allowed to run a model with absolutely no risk involved. When a player can beat the odds (either through statistics or luck or instinct), the betting company is allowed to ban them.

It means that the company business model isn’t about setting the right odds for a particular market. It’s about acquiring as many losing punters as possible with a license to print money. That kind of business (much like the pokies) is predatory, and pretty scummy.

There’s a simple analogy here: monopoly businesses. Betting companies are being allowed to operate in an environment where punters (who are meant to be a big part of their competition) are not allowed to compete against them fairly. Bookies are basically saying they don’t want to compete against punters when setting odds. They just want to milk money from them.

I can understand why they’d do this for their business. But it also doesn’t seem like a fair or competitive way for them to do things either.

What should be done?

This is one case where governments should step in and ban this kind of behavior from betting companies. The simple fact is betting companies should be forced to take on the risk from winning punters.

If the betting company is worried about punters winning, then they should price their markets accordingly. It’s as simple as that.

So, this is one area where I think the government should step in and start regulating the bookies. If the bookies don’t want to compete against punters… well, maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to be in business at all.

You can sign a petition to the government on this here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Petitions/House_of_Representatives_Petitions/Petitions_General/Petitions_List?id=EN0088