Give the way some British and Irish bookmakers treat their customers, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight the worst companies so that punters know who they should avoid. This list will be amended over time depending on my experiences with the various bookmakers I hold accounts with. A list of firms I can recommend has also been added, and, like the wall of shame, it will be modified in accordance with the way the companies handle my account. So here is the Bookmakers' Wall of Shame:
Bookmakers' Wall Of Shame
888Sport have raced to the top of the table within just a few days. After opening the account and backing six consecutive losers I did something 888Sport clearly do not approve of: I backed a winner. From that point onwards my bets were restricted even though my stake on the winner was just £15. 888Sport will accept bets up to £4 (sometimes even this is too much) on horses priced at 5/1 or lower, but the remainder is subject to approval which can take up to 20 minutes. On contacting their support team I was informed that should the price of the horse lengthen during the approval time then I would have to accept the lower price; if, of course, it contracts then the bet would be rejected. I still have free bets outstanding as pointed out by a member of their team, however I can't use these because of the stake limit! Based on my experience I would not be surprised if this company is seen as an embarrassment to the industry by other Bookmakers.
The self-styled biggest Bookmaker in the world allowed me to place Fixed Odds bets with them for 34 days. My maximum stake during this period was £25. Admittedly, when contacted by phone, BetFair representatives did sound very embarrassed by their Managers' actions in "terminating" my account even though I hadn't won! Worse still, the £200 I had lost was gone for good they wouldn't even give me the chance to get even, I think that says more about the company than any of their adverts possibly could. I have now switched to BetDaq and would recommend the move to anyone reading this page.
BetFred used to top the table. I placed my first bet with the Manchester-based company on my birthday, 23 May, 2008. I placed my last bet on 22 May 2009. Why did I stop betting with them you may ask? Well, it was not my decision, BetFred suddenly imposed a limit on my account and I was unable to get more than £10-£20 on a horse; on occasions this limit was just a few pence. This surprised me because during the twelve months I had been betting with them my maximum stake was only £40 per bet and over the year I had placed a total of just £5425. Very rarely did I back each way with over 98% of bets placed as win singles. My profit during the year was only 8% (£428), yet I was deemed to hold an account they could not afford to retain hence the ridiculous restrictions So the next time you see Fred Done's grinning face on an advert immediately think that this is a firm that is not prepared to lose £400 to a punter over the course of a year and is not worth dealing with.
Extremely disappointing – that’s the only way I can describe the conduct of Victor Chandler Bookmakers. I opened an account with “The Gentleman Bookmaker” on 27 May 2010 and over the Summer placed a few £20-£50 fun bets each day. My profit rose to a mere £3,000 then on the 25 September 2010, less than four months since the date of opening, my account was closed. Customer Services at VCBet said they did not have to give a reason for closing my account and so they wouldn’t! In a TV interview Chandler once said that Bookmaking is all about making a book, and making sure it is balanced in your favour which is why he does not close accounts of winning punters. Clearly his opinion has changed, so the next time you hear him on TV crowing about accepting four- and five-figure bets remember that “arguably the most famous bookmaker in the world… the Indiana Jones of bookmaking, the fearless, swashbuckling rails layer who lit up Britain's racecourses for two decades” (source: Racing Post) is not prepared to accept a £40 bet from some bettors.
I had been betting with Boylesports for just over a year without any problems. However, on the first day of Royal Ascot 2010 things changed: I tried to place my usual £50 bets online, but was restricted to just £1.80 on a 5/1 shot. This was the day another punter successfully placed £40,000 on Goldikova at 7/4. I was instructed by customer services that I had to place bets by telephone. This worked for a while but was very time consuming for me and their staff since every bet had to be authorised by the "trading team". To test this, during the Royal meeting I tried to place £20 bet on a 2/1 shot, and even though they were busy I had to wait whilst the bet was authorised by the trading team. All for a bet with a £40 liability on a day when they would deal in millions. This pattern continued so I contacted customer services and explained that they were making other customers wait simply to authorise very small bets from me, I also contacted the CEO Lee Richardson. The result of this was further restrictions placed on my account, so I had no option but to close it.
In order to replace my lost Victor Chandler account I opened one with Stan James - what a mistake that was! Exactly 30 days after opening the account I received an email listing the restrictions that had been placed on it. When I queried this I was initially told it was because I usually beat the price available. Another query and the reason changed to the fact that my account was in profit, then the excuse changed again to "your bets tend to be arbs". Even now I'm not exactly sure what an "arb" is but I have been informed that it is a term Bookmakers use when they want to get rid of a winning punter. During my 30 days with them I had won, but not a great deal, just £2,500, and my maximum stake was just £40. Clearly this is a company not worthy of our business.
Just three months with SkyBet employing a maximum stake of just £25 and making a meagre profit of less than £400 was enough for them. Maximum stake was set at about £4 even at the main meeting on a Saturday. Are these real Bookmakers? I don't think so, more like an industry joke.
I had high hopes for Bet365, they advertise a great deal so clearly have plenty of spare money. But they are just as bad as the others on this list and I now feel embarrassed about recommending them. My maximum stake on a 5/2 shot was £4, perhaps they are struggling in the financial climate? I don't know, but just to be safe I did take all of my money out.
Coral pride themselves on being one of the big three, when nothing could be farther from the reality. Within a short while of opening an account with them restrictions were imposed on my account which meant that all bets had to be validated by a Trader. Then after just four years, when my total profit was just £1,500 (6%) my maximum stake limit was set at £0.
To me the policies adopted by these bookmakers amount to discrimination: one punter is allowed to place a bet on a particular horse, but another is not, and no valid reason is given. It would be understandable if the maximum liability for a horse had been reached, but this is not the case. I have had bets rejected then was able to place them using other bettors' accounts. So it is pure discrimination, something I never thought would make me feel quite as angry, and is the main reason why I hope that everyone reading this page will avoid these companies and even close existing accounts with them.
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