Late bet disputes reach IBAS from retail and online bookmakers.
In betting shops, most alleged late bets are on horse, greyhound or virtual races. In almost all cases, the customer complaint is not whether the bet was actually placed after the start of the event but that their bet was processed by a betting shop employee and it was only when they presented their winning receipt that they were told the bet was struck after the bookmaker’s cut off time for the race.
The IBAS Panel judges each case on its merits and recognises the difficulties caused by customers who place bets close to or shortly after the start of races, although – of course – the easiest way to avoid problems is to make sure as far as possible that bets are placed in good time before a race or other sporting event.
We have recommended to bookmakers and regulators that betting shops should display each individual race’s cut-off point or ‘no more bets time’ (NMBT) on their results screens to allow customers to see whether their losing and winning bets were in fact too late and void without having to make a potentially awkward or embarrassing request at the counter.
IBAS does not consider the principle of cancelling bets processed after a cut-off point to be unfair. If a bet has not been processed and paid for to the bookmaker’s satisfaction by the time the NMBT is reached, then no money is at risk, win or lose, and the customer is automatically entitled to a refund of their stake.
Although there are obviously some cases where customers miss out on potentially winning bets because of poor or slow service at the till, only in exceptional circumstances would the IBAS Panel ever consider reinstating a bet that had never been processed in time to be valid, effectively awarding a customer a winner when there was no risk of loss.
Many of the late bet disputes from betting shops involve debit card transactions. We strongly advise customers to leave as much time as possible before a race to place a bet if paying by card. We recommend to bookmakers that they should not be afraid to refuse debit card payment if the event is close to starting. Otherwise it can create a situation where the debit card payment clears but only once the bet is too late to be processed, leaving the customer with no bet and a 24-48 wait for a card refund.
Online late bets are generally caused by operators leaving pre-match betting markets and odds on their sites after a game or event has commenced. Customers then place bets assuming the odds to relate to ‘in-play’ action and are later told that their bets are void.
It is not a customer’s responsibility to establish precisely when a sporting event began, but an online bettor cannot assume that odds relate to in-play betting just because they are displayed at a point when they are aware that the event is underway. If there is any doubt, check whether the odds are listed in an ‘in-play’ section of the website, or whether the words ‘live’ or ‘in-play’ appear alongside the market or on the online bet slip. If they do not, the operator may well attempt to assert its late bet rule and cancel the bet in the process.