The unpalatable truth about Big Betting

There’s nothing folk detest more about modern-day Bookmaking than the culture of restrictions. It causes ill will on both sides. At no stage in my career has the relationship between Bookmakers, and their customers, been at such a low point. One has only to follow social networking to appreciate this.

It might surprise you to hear, and it certainly won’t be an opinion some will like to hear, that the cause of restrictions lies in exchanges, and indeed in the deterioration in the friendly enmity between each side. Exchanges have made punters greedy and lazy. It’s forced major betting firms to compete with it head on, and by extension treating customers exactly as exchanges do, as a number. A burgeoning group of former punters – have turned to money trading.


There have been those who chide my firm, rather unfairly, on socials over restrictions. But there are two central truths I’d like to point out. We don’t, in fact, restrict customer stakes, we are the only online firm to offer a comprehensive £1000 lay to lose minimum, that’s a very serious statement of intent. However if we encounter a trader, we close them summarily. Want a percentage of new accounts we are forced to close? It’s currently running at 15% of every application made to us! That’s a grotesque percentage. We don’t filter by profit or loss, but the type of business afforded. I don’t buy the explanation from Skybet CEO, Richard Flint who makes claim the figure on restrictions is less than 2%. It’s pure fiction.

Second, we have never been responsible for the environment where restrictions abound. We are simply forced to compete with much larger operators and their offer cultures. It’s inescapably factual, were we not to follow their lead and bend to promo offers, we simply would have to put the key in the door on business. Where would we gain new clients from? No business can survive without new custom.



OK, so you know all this already – right? Let me share the commercial reality with you. It’s one based on the Arc De Triomphe. I noticed several firms, offering extra places on what should have been a money spinning event. Skybet led with a five place offer in a race which traditionally pays out on three. This offer in the simplest terms involved this company betting to 78% in its early shows in the place market. A loss for every £100 investment on that market of £22 for each £100 wagered. At SP, their margin shrank further to 70%.

They were shouldering a staggering £30 loss for every wager laid on The Arc De Triomphe.

Still think you’ll get a bet with Skybet, or their mates?


All the major firms were running at a loss of similar proportions. For the sake of balance, William Hill, betting to standard terms of 1/5th the first 3 horses, would have shown a £17 profit for every £100 staked on the place on their early market, and a £4 profit at SP.

William Hill therefore were more likely to lay a bet on the Arc.

To test the water, one of my staffers decided to place a series of wagers on the Arc, each way, with Skybet. He was summarily closed. they advertise the special, but if you actually play in it, you’re closed.

So let’s get this right Mr Flint. You promote these events for your customers, the most likely net effect is to force a restriction to be applied? What exactly is your customer focused message? Richard Flint admits 3% of their customer base are restricted. That figure hasn’t been verified, and in my opinion is entirely fanciful, given the companies offer culture. Even were you to accept his assertion, he’s saying a staggering 60,000 customers as a minimum don’t get their bets laid. They’d rather restrict than close. I have a personal Skybet account, which is as useful as a chocolate frying pan. I can’t wager £1 on it, but they’ve never closed the same. This is how they ‘big’ up their customer numbers. A lie.



Following me so far? Sorry if it’s a little figure laden, but it’s important to grasp the problem here. I think you can see their offers actually make it impossible to function as a Bookmaker normally. Effectively only ‘new business’ and ‘losing customers’ need apply for a bet, many customers will typically have to accept restrictions in any market the Bookmaker knows he’s operating at a loss. Yes, it is a trading standards issue, and yes the Gambling Commission should long ago have stepped in to educate themselves and put a stop to such behaviour. I mean who permits a firm to advertise a product, yet not to lay it? This isn’t the first time the regulator has failed consumers.

There’s nothing worse than begging a bet.


Let’s turn to the ‘money traders’ as I call them, and explain how they operate. Indeed why they need to declassify themselves as punters.

Imagine Sea Of Class, (returned at 6/1) and a straight forward £100 each way wager. That’s 6/5 as a return for the place book, and five lovely places for her to run into. The money trader looks for a Bookmaker whose odds directly mirror, or even exceed those of betting exchanges on the win book. So he backs Class at 7.0 and in an ideal world he lays it back at the same rate, to the same stake, or even less. If he can lay it back at 6.8, he would lock in a small, risk free, profit. It’s the place book, in this example, which he is really targeting, with his bet to cover his own £100 place wager.

He lays it back. the horse was trading on the exchange place book at around 2.0, meaning he deposits £200 to cover the lay bet. As Skybet are paying him £240 for his wager, his immediate profit or ‘arb’ as it is known is £40. However there’s a more lucrative bonus for the money trader. The Bookie is paying on five places, the exchange on three. If Sea Of Class finishes 4th or 5th, the trader collects from the Bookie, and wins with his place lay, which is unplaced under exchange rules.

Win Win. Risk nil.

If he could get on, he could do this with several horses in the race, seeking the prized 4th or 5th slot. Lay everything back for a zero risk ‘bet’ and a healthy upside


Now, the numbers or profit might vary up or down, but the base principle remains the same. Provided his selection fills the prized places, his only enemy is account restriction or closure. Every Bookmaker that shuts him out is affecting his livelihood. Are you beginning to understand why they utilise every member of their friends and family to get a bet on now?

This isn’t the only get rich scheme which traders utilise. It is, however, the easiest example to understand. There are schemes based on best odds, money back offers, deposit bonuses, non runner-no bet, football accumulators, and more. All based on the simple back and lay back premise. A modern day side effect to the advent of betting exchanges.


Now, I don’t know about you, but to me a punter is primarily a risk taker in the main, sometime a very clever one. He wagers his cash and take his chances. This is true of any gambler. My business is focused on servicing their wagers. I believe the beg a bet culture should die.

Money traders simply need a compliant bookmaker to facilitate their trades. Without the Bookie, the trader has no business. This is why, when their accounts are closed, they often make vitriolic attacks, masquerading as a ‘genuine punter’ or ‘lifelong gambler’ on social networking. And everyone sympathises apparently with their plight.


You can argue until you are blue in the face that your should be treated in the same way as punters, going about honest wagering. Form is meaningless to you. Every wager is an exercise in numbers trading. YOU ARE NOT A PUNTER.

Let’s all put our cards on the table, and start being honest with each other. You are acting as a bookmaker, and operating business.  You’re practically easy to spot by career bookmakers, since every trade relates to paralleling or exceeding exchange odds. Firms make no apologies for closing you down, simply because you’re operating a business, within our own. So smile to yourself that you’ve been rumbled and move on quietly. Enough of the sensationalist crap online, you cheapen yourself.

Yes, there will be the odd genuine punter who is unfairly caught in the net along with you. I think we all need to be realistic in the modern greed culture, based on free bets, BOG and bonuses. The environment offered by big betting has never afforded such rich rewards for punters. All funded by huge gaming profits.

.Cartoon 1
 ‘you Bookies created this environment, so don’t whine if we win!’

Well of course that’s a view, but not one I can affect change in. This is the brain child of spotty traders working for big betting, fresh out of school, with a D in Maths. Large concerns, such as Skybet, base their success and share price, on the number of customers they acquire. if it costs several million to run each one of these event based promotions, which it does, then this is a cheap price to pay for a company that’s grown from 1.1bn in net worth to 4.8bn dollars in a few years.

Eventually they’ll all end up like Ladbrokes, a has been, fodder for even larger competitors to acquire. In the meantime, remember there’s blame on both sides. They created the environment in which you prosper with continuous and weekly loss leaders, to encourage people to sign up. And you make a business out of it.

Closures and restrictions are in fact throughly inevitable for companies that knowingly trade considerably below the profit line. Accept them for as long as you refuse to take the matter to trading standards, and for that matter a slumbering Gambling Commission. Or perhaps consider a firm that does offer a more sensible approach, as we do.

Failing that? Moan away on Twitter after you sign up




Geoff Banks

October 2018


Author: Geoff Banks Racing

UK's Leading Independent Bookmaker. We pay our tax and Levy to British Racing as an Approved Betting Partner. And no begging a proper bet here, large or small stakers welcome! Text, phone, APP or website. Private Client Wagering at its best. :)

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