Where we are now with a minimum liability (bet) rule?

Disappointingly we feel it’s time to comment on this issue again despite many thousands of words being written about it over the last five years.

Briefly, the Gambling Act (2005) has a number of primary aims, one of which is that gambling should be ‘fair and open’. Meeting this and the other primary aims is the role of the Gambling Commission (GC).

It’s not clear when opening a gambling account online, over the telephone or starting to bet in-shop that customers who bet on sports in certain ways will be banned from doing so or more likely have their stakes restricted, often making their account impossible to use. This lack of clarity means the primary ‘fair and open’ aim is knowingly not being fulfilled. For J4P the word ‘knowingly’ has become crucial. It’s unacceptable, even unethical for any regulator to ‘knowingly’ ignore unfair practice. It’s quite logical that a gambling company would ‘knowingly’ ignore unfairness when regulators have allowed a culture of reducing gambling risk to nil or at worst virtually nil for them: What’s not to like?

J4P has tried to take a different approach to a minimum liability (bet) rule (MBL). J4P does not accept that new legislation is needed to effectively introduce a widespread MBL, although we would prefer legislation. This post will cover our different approach, but for now, we’ve been told by the GC that a MBL is NOT a priority for them, so ‘knowingly’ ignoring unfairness. The GC has also told us that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) does not have the time to pass new legislation, because Brexit is the ‘only issue in the parliamentary village’ for the foreseeable future. The DCMS hasn’t confirmed this too us, but when we met with them they showed little interest in moving a MBL forward quickly.

J4P’s view is that present legislation can ensure a widespread MBL as an interim before new legislation. Whilst J4P welcomes what has been introduced voluntarily by a tiny number of companies a voluntary process is highly unlikely to make things ‘fair and open’ for an industry like the gambling industry; history tells us all we need to know.
In the interim what legislation is J4P talking about:

  1. Contract law (terms and conditions)
  2. Advertising law
  3. Data protection law

The European and UK statute book has extremely detailed legislation for all these three things.  In fact, it is often so detailed, it’s incomprehensible to all but regulators and highly skilled lawyers employed by gambling companies.

  1. Contract law (terms and conditions)

As everyone knows J4P’s founder identified this topic way before J4P was even launched. It’s now over three years since the founder approached the GC and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) about the unfairness of gambling company contracts.  Both regulators agreed that gambling contracts were unfair.

Although, progress has been made both regulators have made it plainly clear that a contract that fairly reflects the practice of stopping skilled people from betting is way down their list of priorities, so no specific progress on this issue has been made.

J4P would like to see gambling contracts that clearly state gambling of any form should not be based on skilled analysis of any type that suggests or leads to regular profit, however small.  This fact, because it is fact, must be included in contracts and outlined clearly during every account registration process. New customers must be told the truth and asked to tick a box stating they have understood that 99% of traditional off-course bookmakers do not ‘knowingly’ (that word again) trade with skilled customers.

  1. Advertising law

Advertising law is based on many similar principles to contract law, so all that’s needed here is to outline that advertising must be clear and fair.  Every gambling advert must, therefore contain a warning that customers using skilled analysis, which suggests or does lead to regular profit, however small, will not be tolerated.

  1. Data protection law

As many of J4P’s followers know we’ve been completed bamboozled by this legislation (https://justiceforpunters.org/other-punter-injustices/joint-meeting-with-the-ico-gc-data-protection-law/).

Data protection law is underpinned by openness and clarity, therefore fairness.  J4P makes no apologies for laughing at the challenges companies face in doing this when the legislation and how it links to gambling legislation and guidelines is as ‘clear as mud’.   Nevertheless, gambling company privacy policy legally has to be clear about what personal data; is being collected, what for, where & how it is stored, how it is processed, by whom and for what reasons.  J4P has yet to read a gambling company privacy policy that does this, so why is no action being taken?

If the Information Commissioner’s Office insisted on gambling companies making clear that personal data is being used to stop people winning, however little that amount may be J4P would be much happier, because again, it’s the truth, so fair.


Does the UK need legislation to create a MBL, preferably yes, but in the interim you can be 99% certain that if any of the regulators mentioned here applied present UK legislation correctly there would a MBL of some sort gambling industry wide next week.

Major off-course gambling companies are not going to make it clear in their advertising, privacy policies and contracts that gambling is only for those who gamble in silly, illogical or even irresponsible ways.  An industry wide MBL similar to those in Australia (https://www.racingvictoria.com.au/wagering/minimum-bet-limit), but covering more sports, will help to solve the problem of having to trade unfairly when laying sports bets, whilst still making a profit, albeit perhaps a little smaller profit.

Regulators have a responsibility to make sure they regulate to the best of their abilities, ‘knowingly’ ignoring unfairness should never be on their agenda.   At present in the UK J4P and others have proven that they do this and it has to stop, or in the case of the Gambling Commission they should move aside and let somebody else have a go.