The mutual benefits of a ‘minimum liability (bet) rule (MLR)’

‘Justice for Punters’ (J4P) considers a MLR will be of benefit to all parties, not least the Gambling Commission (GC), because it helps to fulfil a primary GC aim of gambling being ‘fair and open’.  J4P hopes the observations that follow are constructive for what has become a long running increasingly antagonistic debate.

  1. MLR is an easy, cost efficient way to improve the image of the industry and regulator with consumers, e.g. it’s a massive step towards sports betting markets fulfilling the Gambling Commission’s objective of being ‘fair and open’.
  1. MLR will improve the consumer’s trust in sports betting, because consumers will have an aspiration they are able win up to certain amounts, using skill, without the fear of being penalised through account restrictions for trying hard.
  1. MLR will mean companies won’t have to hide the fact that consumers are not allowed to win using skill, e.g. make it easier for companies to write fair terms and conditions, therefore reducing the pressures on the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation.
  1. MLR will mean companies don’t have to hide the fact that all their services/promotions are not available to all consumers, e.g. make it easier for companies to clearly fulfil advertising laws.
  1. MLR should make customer KYC (ID) processes much more focussed and cost efficient, because MLR may reduce people betting using a false ID quite significantly, therefore reducing the collateral consumer damage caused by the present failed company policing of this issue, e.g. all professional punters still get their bets on using various methods, but recreational smaller stakes punters do not. Early anecdotal data from Australia suggests MLR will also allow 98% of KYC processes to concentrate on what the priorities of KYC should be, e.g. identifying those; under 18, with gambling problems and those involved in crime.
  1. MLR should create an environment where online invasive tracking, where legal, can be encouraged by all parties for the identification of false IDs, e.g. for identification of those; under 18, with gambling problems, involved in crime and those abusing MLR.
  1. At present dubious sporting information services are rife on social media driven by gambling company affiliate commission generated by losing consumers, whereas the few genuine services that exist have to keep a low profile to avoid 100% of their customers’ stakes being restricted to pennies. MLR will help the ethical survive in an unregulated ‘Wild West’ market.
  1. As the majority of account restrictions are imposed for bets placed on horse racing the current situation unchecked presents a potential threat to the future of the British horse racing industry. A MLR would encourage a healthy, vibrant environment in which the industry should thrive.
  1. MLR will improve media coverage of the industry, therefore image, e.g. create an environment where initiatives like J4P, the Horse Bettors Forum and others can support the gambling industry in the promotion of ‘fair and open’ markets and all the factors that create said markets.

J4P concludes that a MLR will be a win/win situation for all parties, so long as it’s implemented in a ‘fair and open’ way.  Whilst a voluntary MLR negotiated with operators would be welcome there will be a need for this to be supported by licensing or primary legislation, because existing evidence shows that placing trust alone in gambling companies is not a sensible option. 

What does J4P see as a fair MLR?

In J4Ps case this is quite an easy question. We’ve achieved most of our success by using evidence.  The only evidence there is about MLR in action is from Australia, therefore we propose something very similar to what has existed for a few years in New South Wales and Victoria (click here), e.g. one that outlines levels of minimum liability (risk) dependent on the time before an event, class of event, etc.

The UK sports markets will require some minor adaptations to the Australian model, but J4P remains to be convinced by some of the arguments put forward by a few industry personnel for the differing business risks for MLR in the UK compared to Australia.  J4P may change its view if convincing business data is shared, which to date has not been forthcoming.


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