Adjudication Case Studies - Rugby : Handicap Betting

In rugby or football matches it is quite common for bookmakers to offer markets on both the outright result and also the result on a handicap basis, where one team is given a points or goals start. Ideally backers should stipulate which market they want but if they do not then the industry custom and practice is that the price taken will identify the proposition, as happened here:


It is an established principle in betting and in betting adjudication that bets are settled solely on what is written on a slip with any conversations in the shop, which, of course, are virtually impossible to substantiate, being ignored. It is also the precedent that where a bet can be interpreted in more than one way then the price applied is used to identify the intended selection.

In this case a customer placed a treble involving Schalke, Hull KR in the Super League and AFC in their game against the NFC in American Football. His instructions were for all three teams 'to win' and he took prices on all the selections.

The football component is not in dispute, but with the other two selections the customer is claiming that he intended to back the teams to win their matches outright, rather than on a handicap basis. As the bookmaker was not applying any handicap to either team in the Hull KR match, the outright odds were in fact identical to those for the handicap [10/11], so as Hull KR won the match this selection was also deemed a winner.

However, as the customer also took the price of 10/11 against AFC, which equated to the price for them to beat NFC conceding a 4 point start, this part of the bet was settled as a loser, as AFC won the game by only 3 points.

The company have a rule applicable to both American Football and Rugby matches that states: 'Where the odds for both outright win and handicap betting are advertised, unless the handicap or a qualifying price has been written on the slip, all bets will be settled on the outright win'.

The Panel therefore confirm that the bookmaker was fully entitled to settle the selection on the handicap basis and have no doubt that the customer would have been paid in full had AFC covered the 4 point spread.

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