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“The customer is falling back in love with Ladbrokes. We’ve just not looked after them.”

Richard Glynn tells the FT how he intends improving Ladbrokes Protecting

against disputes

John Samuels of IBAS extols the virtues of the organisation’s e-bulletins which are designed to head disputes off at the pass by informing bookmakers of potential problems.


n the battle against betting dis- putes, between operators and their customers, IBAS strives to be proactive in the area of bet dispute prevention. Part of this action involves regular ebulletins: an initia- tive developed by Chris O’Keeffe. His sad and untimely death on 31 December 2010 has been a great loss to the IBAS team and these regular bulletins were borne out of his ongoing positive vision and tireless mission in promoting and highlight- ing the importance of dispute pre- vention. We will continue to produce newsletters on a regular basis as they can highlight pressing and topical issues.

It has long been an established principle for horserace bets that if a selection is correctly named then that selection stands irrespective of what race meeting or time or price may be applied to it.

d US online regulation ng legislation in the US for more than a decade, the

w. President and CEO Frank Fahrenkopf provided a little

tion changed last March, when our board came to the conclusion that it was about time that we did, in fact, get involved. However, the argument had previously been made that online gaming would generate new revenues for Congress, and this is the wrong message. The message should be about consumer protection. So, what does the future hold? There has been a lot of attention focusing on state-based legislation. Although I don’t see the fea- sibility of this in many states, I am very pleased to see it happening, as it helps me make the argument to Congress that we ought to do this at a federal level. The AGA is hopeful that after the summer break a bill will be introduced that will include a number of key

points. Firstly, the bill should give oversight to the US Congress but that it would delegate the licens- ing and regulatory author- ity to the states that have the longest history in gaming regulation. In the balance of things, this prob- ably means Nevada and New Jersey. Secondly, indi- vidual state legislators would have to take affirma- tive action to say they want their people in their state to be able to game on the inter- net. Lastly, there should be a specific, unambiguous clarification of the law of the US with regard to inter- net gaming. This US$4bn market has got to focus on tough regulation and con- sumer protection. The key, I think, lies within which view of Senator Foghorn is going to prevail.

IBAS has always followed that principle and for the most part - except where there was reason to believe a wrong horse had been iden- tified because of confusion over two Gaelic names - bookmakers have had no reason to question our rulings. More contentious, however, are those cases where a customer writes the number of one horse but applies the price of another, say writing 5 but applying the price of 11-10, which actually applied to the 6 horse. If the 5 horse wins then the cus- tomer will argue he got the wrong price but his selection was clearly number 5 so he has to be paid whereas if the favourite wins he will argue that he ‘obviously’ meant to back the favourite because that was the price he took and he simply got the wrong number.

When these disputes reach IBAS (usually when the numbered horse has won) the bookmaker will usually say that if the favourite had won he would have paid the customer, often adding that the customer is known as being a favourite backer. Inevitably, we end up ruling that as the selection was correctly identi- fied then the price is irrelevant though we are, of course, aware that for greyhound bets many bookmak- ers have a rule which gives prece- dence to the price taken rather than the meeting or time applied to the selection.

Given that many customers now use numbers rather than names to make horse selections it may be time for bookmakers to review their rules and make a specific provision as to whether the numbered selection or the price takes precedence. Of course, whatever approach is taken the key thing is for it to be applied consistently.

Bookmakers will need no remind- ing from us as to how adept their cus-

tomers can be at finding flaws in their rules. Nor will they be surprised to find that shop staff do not always spot an anomaly in the way a slip is written. We had one recent case where a cus- tomer sought to exploit both those vulnerabilities on horseracing match bets, a market which, of course, is suspended once there is a first show from the racecourse or at a set time prior to the race. This customer’s ploy was to make a selection, name the meeting and time and then write ‘Match’ on the slip but place the bet after the match market had been suspended. Unsur- prisingly, few staff noticed the match annotation and the bets were accepted and translated as bets for the outright market. Of course, if the horse won he would keep quiet and happily collect but if it lost he would say he had intended it to be a match bet and that it should be void (the bookmaker’s rule) as it was placed after that market had been sus- pended. We had no choice but to rule that the bets should be void as the word ‘Match’ was endorsed on the slip and therefore the bet had to be settled on that market. Why someone would place a match bet when he should have known the market had been suspended (the cut-off time was dis- played on shop monitors advertising the bets) is, of course, another ques- tion but such interpretation of a cus- tomer’s intentions is outside the IBAS remit. Instead we adjudicate on a bookmaker’s rules and the written instructions on the slip. It would seem to us therefore that the way to plug this loophole (other than expecting staff to spot the word ‘match’) is to have a rule which says if a bet is too late for the match market it will go on to the outright market rather than being void.

BettingBusinessInteractive • AUGUST 2011 27

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