The average punter may have just a couple of betting accounts which they use on a regular basis. However, matched bettors are likely to have dozens of accounts as they take advantage of the free bets and betting offers available across multiple sites.
Whether you have just one bookmaker account or several, it’s important to understand the level of protection offered by the bookmaker in relation to your funds.
Unlike personal bank accounts which are protected by the government, your funds are at a much greater risk with a bookmaker depending on what level of protection they provide.
We’ll be taking a look at what the available levels of protection are from bookmakers regarding your funds and which level of protection some of the major bookies offer.
The 3 Levels Of Fund Protection
Firstly, all bookmakers are required to declare what level of protection they provide to customers’ funds. This is a requirement from the Gambling Commission. However, the bookmaker decides which category they fall into.
There are three levels of protection with the bookmaker themselves deciding which category their protection level falls into.
- No Protection
- Medium Protection
- High Protection
Every bookmaker must declare which level of funds protection they provide by stating it in their terms and conditions.
Although it Is the bookmaker which determines which category their level of protection falls into, the Gambling Commission may check the accuracy of their rating.
What Does Each Level Of Protection Offer?
So, we know that there are three levels of protection relating to the funds you hold in your bookmaker accounts but what do they mean?
Your funds are held in separate accounts from company funds. However, this is the case with all protection levels so do not think that this means that your funds are 100% safe. In fact, with bookmakers offering no protection, if the company went insolvent, customers’ funds would be treated as assets of the company which means that there is a chance that you would not receive them back.
You have some fallback with bookmakers offering a medium level of protection if they were to go bust as arrangements are made to protect funds in these circumstances such as having insurance on customers’ accounts so that those funds are distributed back to the customers.
This is the highest level of funds protection available. Customers’ funds are legally and in practice held separate from company accounts. There is usually a third-party individual or external auditor involved who controls these accounts.
Can A Bookmaker Really Keep Your Money?
This depends on the level of protection which they provide. Unfortunately, the majority of people who sign up to a bookmaker don’t bother to check the terms to see what protection they have.
If a bookmaker offers no protection to customers’ funds then it’s entirely possible that those funds will be classed as assets of the company and will be swallowed up if the company went insolvent. Thankfully, this isn’t always the case as some struggling bookmakers get bought out or merge with others.
There have been a couple of bookmakers over the past year which left customers in doubt whether they would receive their funds back or whether their outstanding bets would be fulfilled or made void.
The first example is Betbright which in the past won several awards including ‘Best In-house Product’ and ‘Best Football Betting Product’ in 2016 and an ‘Innovation in Sports Betting’ award in 2018.
However, in March 2019, just before the Cheltenham Festival, Betbright ceased all trading and declared all outstanding ante-post bets void, sparking anger amongst customers who many will have undoubtedly had several bets on the festival races and other events.
BetBright did give customers 30 days to withdraw any funds from their accounts which is a positive outcome considering that Betbright provided the lowest level of protection to customers’ funds – NO PROTECTION.
Another recent example of a bookmaker going under with NO PROTECTION on customers’ funds is MoPlay.
MoPlay had their licence revoked in February of 2020 and the following message is displayed on the homepage of their website:
On 19th February 2020, Addison Global’s gambling licenses were suspended in the public interest, including to protect the interests of consumers. On 25th February 2020, Edgar Lavarello of PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited Gibraltar was appointed the Provisional Liquidator of Addison Global Limited by Order of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar. In consequence, all MoPlay’s activities were immediately suspended and customers have not been able to access or withdraw money from their accounts.
Although this may seem like the company is doing something illegal, their terms and conditions state the following which all customers agree to prior to registering and depositing.
9.1 To play our games and place bets, you need to deposit funds. Your funds will be held separate from company funds in a mixture of bank accounts and reserve funds which we hold with our payment processors. However, if there was ever a situation where we became insolvent, your funds would not be considered separate to the other company assets and you may not receive all your funds back.
9.2 We hold your funds in accordance with the minimum requirement for all operators. This level of protection is decided by us and meets the requirements for the protection of customer funds at the level: not protected.
As MoPlay offered NO PROTECTION to customers’ funds, the Gambling Commission will unlikely to have much power in these situations as all customers should have known their funds could be at risk in the case of the company being declared insolvent.
However, it’s a fact that the majority of customers do not check the T&C’s prior to registering. Hopefully, after reading this article, checking the level of funds protection which a bookmaker provides will be routine for you.
Should This Impact Which Bookmakers You Bet With?
If a bookmaker offers no protection on your funds should they go under then you have to make the personal decision as to whether you are willing to take the risk.
If you are signing up to simply claim the welcome offer and don’t plan on using the bookmaker long-term for any substantial bets, then many would consider this low-risk as you’re unlikely to be holding large sums of money in your account for any length of time. However, if you use a bookmaker regularly and tend not to withdraw your funds then you need to decide if losing those funds would have a major impact on your bank and your financial circumstances.
Bookmakers Protection Levels
Ok, now let’s take a look at which bookmakers provide each of the three levels of protection – No Protection, Medium Protection and High Protection.
IMPORTANT – The lists below can be used as guides but it is extremely important to always check the terms and conditions on the individual bookmaker websites for the level of protection which they offer prior to registering and depositing.
Bookmakers Which Provide NO PROTECTION To Customers’ Funds
Bookmakers Which Provide Medium Protection To Customers’ Funds
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Bookmakers Which Provide High Protection To Customers’ Funds
You’ll notice some of the bigger names offer the highest level of protection such as Betfair, Betvictor, Betway, Coral, Paddy Power and Smarkets which is reassuring. Many bookmakers fall into the Medium Protection level which is acceptable to most customers. However, there are also quite a few big names which offer NO PROTECTION to customers’ funds such as Betfred and several online casinos.
It’s not often that a bookmaker goes under and results in customers’ funds being held and not distributed back. However, it does happen and not a huge amount can be done if they have declared that they offer No Protection in their terms and conditions. If this is a concern for you then it is essential that you check to see what level of protection is offered before your register. You may wish to evaluate the risk based on how much money you will be depositing but it’s always useful to understand the risks involved in holding funds in your bookmaker accounts.