Tuesday 24 December 2019

Betting Is Consensual - A Privilege, Not A Right

It's nothing new, but the topic of bookie restrictions flared up again yesterday with an article in The Times about Bet365's temerity to make money "by using data modelling to limit winning customers' ability to bet".
Joseph Buchdahl commented that:
Bets are always consensual, and if one side refuses to take action from another, that's their right, no matter how annoying it might seem to a skilled punter.
As I wrote in this post back in 2014:
The advertisement in the bookmaker’s window, web-site or in the Racing Post is an “invitation to treat”. The advertiser, in this case the bookie, is under no obligation to enter into a contract with a punter interested in an agreement at that price.
We, as punters, have the choice to make a bet, (an offer), and the bookie then has the right (but not an obligation) to lay the bet (an acceptance). If we choose not to make an offer in the first place, or the bookmaker chooses not to accept the bet, there is no contract.

This is the law, it’s a fact of life, and in my opinion whining about it is somewhat unlikely to result in modifications to contract law.
When I tweeted a link to that old post, Joseph generously commented:
The Times' article quotes a Bet365 spokesman who says:
"Online gambling operators, including Bet365, seek to manage their liabilities by restricting or refusing to accepts bets/wagers from certain customers. A bet is a commercial arrangement between two willing parties and there is no statutory right to bet.
In the same way that a customer can decide whether or not they wish to place a bet, a gambling business is also free to decide who they accept bets from, and on what terms, to manage their business and financial liabilities, just as an insurance company may do when setting premiums."
That there is no inalienable right to bet is a fact of life, and all the whining about it is futile. As Joseph says:
Bookmakers unfortunately are not charities so don't have to fund your activity if they don't want to. It may seem annoying but that's how it is.
Some were upset about the impact on horse racing of bookmakers trying to make a profit:
Cassini: Racing is a dying sport. Why promote it at all?

A Lucky A Day: If it were starting from scratch it would have a hell of a job getting off the ground, that's for sure. But it is part of British culture and employs a lot of people. There are quite a few incentives to keep it going, even though in its current form its not really viable.

Cassini: Pedestrianism was once very popular and funded by wagering but "was largely displaced by the rise in modern spectator sports and by controversy involving rules, which limited its appeal as a source of wagering". I see similarities with horse racing today.
Along with sensational feats of distance, gambling was a central attraction for the large, mostly working-class crowds which came to pedestrian events.
Horse racing has had a good run for its money, if you'll excuse the puns, but the sporting habits of society evolve. Cock fighting and bull baiting aren't what they were. Professional rowing? Sunk without a trace.  
Like cricket, horse racing had been organised since the eighteenth century and was followed by all classes from Lords to commoners. Gambling was at the core of its attraction and a flutter on the horses was extremely popular, despite its illegality(until 1963) when the bet was placed in cash and outside the racecourse. As with soccer, the sporting press offered form guides and was studied closely, with elaborate schemes being developed to predict a winner. The racecourse itself was often rather disreputable, with the sporting entertainment on offer to its large crowds being supplemented by beer, sideshows and, in the nineteenth century, prostitutes. It provided the middle classes with an opportunity to (mis)behave in a manner that would be impossible in wider respectable society.
Prostitutes! Who knew?

Going back a little further, 2012, to be precise, I wrote these words:
In my opinion, unless the rewards have a good chance of being available at least for a while, it’s simply not worth the effort needed to open these accounts.
One of the beauties of the exchange concept for me, was that winning accounts do not get closed down. They may do in the future, but for now they don’t, and while the commission charged to winning accounts may seem excessive, when you consider the alternative of not being allowed to play, well, at least the choice as to whether or not to continue is yours.
When Ladbrokes and Coral closed my accounts down in the 80s, I had no alternative other than to quit. I could have opened new accounts in other names, (and that was a lot easier back then), but it’s a road to nowhere. Sooner or later you run out of relatives and I don’t have many friends for some reason.
I still don't have many friends, but I do have other betting options these days. Yes, Betfair may be taking 50% of profits, but this penalty only kicks in after reaching a lifetime limit, and complaining about paying a higher rate of tax as your income increases isn't something that is morally defensible. Payer a higher tax rate is generally a good problem to have.

My complaints about the Premium Charge were about how it was implemented. The goal posts were moved, but I don't set the rules and no amount of crying or whining will move them back.

The 2008 implementation of a 20% tax was reasonable, but in late June of 2011, the second, and more punitive, phase was introduced when I was already about 90.4% of the way to the lifetime limit. It didn't seem fair to include previous winnings in the lifetime total, but there are some things in life we control, and for those we don't control, we adapt.

In my case, this meant that the time spent trading in-play could no longer be justified, so I moved to a bet-and-forget approach. Winning 50p for a few minutes 'work' is one thing; winning 50p after several hours is quite another.

As it happens, liquidity on the in-play markets I followed took a dive around the same time anyway, so in a way, the Premium Charge did me a favour. I made lemonade with the lemons I was given, as the saying goes.

And how did the bet-and-forget approach go this weekend?

We had several Divisional matches with the Unders going 5-2, and just the one Small Road 'Dog (Green Bay Packers) who won last night.

The Divisional Road 'Dogs, which included the Packers, went 4-1 on the weekend.

Since 2011, the final week of the Regular season is always all Divisional games, so next week will be a busy one. and after that it is on to the play-offs and the Wild Card weekend where Unders is where the value is usually found:

In the NHL, there was one losing selection in the basic Road Favourites system (below, right) while the numbers on the left are a more profitable sub-set: 
NBA Road Favourites moved their record for the season to 10-4, while Overs are now 45-38-1.

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