Disputes between punters and betting operators over football bets have reached record levels, according to figures produced by the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (Ibas) in its annual report for 2007.
Analysis suggests that the trend is being driven by the growth of online betting in general, and in-running betting on football in particular. Internet betting - excluding betting exchanges - accounted for eight per cent of disputes dealt with by Ibas in 2004. Last year the sector accounted for 22 per cent of disputes.
In the same period, the percentage of disputes attributable to football bets rose by only one per cent, but at 34 per cent in 2007 it represented the highest figure recorded, and widened the gap to horseracing, on 29 per cent, to its largest. No other sector contributed a double-figure percentage.
The Ibas report notes that 144 online football cases were put forward in 2007, compared with 61 the previous year, which featured the World Cup.
Ibas chief executive Chris O'Keeffe said: "More detailed analysis reveals that betting in running is the most disputed matter. Betting in running is by its nature a high-risk transaction in a fast-moving environment, where settlement can be contentious, and speed of bet acceptance and independent validation are critical.
Offering adjudication in this category is one of the new challenges facing Ibas."
O'Keeffe added: "Due to the high-risk exposure in relation to real-time action and varying speed of media transmissions, bookmakers and operators need to be more vigilant in retaining accurate evidence in anticipation of a dispute requiring independent adjudication."
The total number of requests for adjudication, 2,607, was 165 down on the previous year, and the number of cases that went to an Ibas panel, 1,668, fell by eight.
However, O'Keeffe warned against believing that "a solid downward trend" was developing.
He said: "Our strand of the industry is volatile by its very nature, and a situation which can cause an avalanche of disputes is never far away."
The amount of money gained for customers using the Ibas service in 2007 was a record high, at £365,082, but again O'Keeffe had a warning rider, saying it was "due in the main to a substantial award against a registered retail bookmaker who duly complied with a ruling".
O'Keeffe's review in the annual report notes the huge changes brought about by the creation of the Gambling Commission and the formal introduction of the new Gambling Act in September last year.
He said: "Against this backdrop, Ibas has quietly and efficiently continued to modernise its structure, carrying out much work to ensure its adjudication procedures are in line with the key objectives set out in the Gambling Act, including 'that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way'."Ibas annual report 2007 is available online at ibas-uk.com
From BBC Sport