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Association of British Bookmakers: Response to punter’s petition

Association of British Bookmakers Ltd

Ground Floor Warwick House

25 Buckingham Palace Road

London SW1W 0PP
13th January 2016 (meeting took place mid October 2015, displaying the respect they don’t have for 3000+ customers)

By email only

Dear Sirs

Thank you for submitting your petition on betting restrictions and for meeting me at the ABB offices.

The ABB represents over 80% of the high street betting industry and our membership includes William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power, as well as almost 100 smaller independent bookmakers. In our discussion you raised issues relating to both betting shops and the remote (online) betting sectors. Given the ABB only represents land based, betting shops I will confine my comments to this sector and my views should not be seen as reflecting the views of the remote gambling sector.

The ABB and our members are committed to ensuring the highest standards in betting in the UK to ensure responsible gambling, fair play, an enjoyable leisure experience, high levels of customer service and appropriate risk management.
As you are aware, betting restrictions relate to the amount that an individual is able to place on any given event or race. It is important when considering betting restrictions to differentiate between general restrictions and specific customer restrictions.

General restrictions on the amount that can be bet take place when the market is at an early stage and apply to all customers. For example, to improve customer service and the leisure experience for our customers many of our members have now moved from a position of pricing up only a few horse races the night before an event to pricing up the majority of races including some maiden races. This helps customers get early odds for races however as the market is at an early stage, members may have restrictions on the amount that can be bet until there is greater confidence and liquidity in the market. As the market develops and liquidity increases then restrictions tend to be relaxed. This means that customers may only be able to place a smaller amount the night before a race, more the following morning and significantly more near the off. The odds that a customer receives will reflect the market at the point in time when their bet is placed.

Specific customer restrictions are put in place where there is evidence or suspicion of an attempt to abuse the market to the detriment of all other leisure customers. This may be because the individual concerned has an account which is linked to robots or “bots” to place bets, accounts linked to arbitrage, professional or connected gamblers who have access to greater levels of information and those identified with multiple accounts. If these individuals were not restricted an uneven playing field would be created for all other customers as the odds and prices that leisure customers are able to receive would be distorted. It is also the case that without some restrictions on the amounts that can be bet there would be a significant increase in the financial risk and viability of our members’ businesses (So, please do tell us, if none of this applies to you, as per the main author of this website.  We assume, like most people you can appreciate he dislikes being lied about).

Beyond these broad principles, the decision whether to accept a bet is one for individual companies and forms an element of competition between different operators, I hope you will understand that it is not appropriate for the ABB to mandate or recommend behaviours on the part of member companies that might be seen to undermine competition.

Yours sincerely

Malcolm George
Chief Executive
Association of British Bookmakers.

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