There’s a lot of talk in the UK at the moment about a minimum bet law. Will it come in? If it comes in, what will it look like?
In this article, I’m going to tackle the above questions will some extra information about why the current system in the UK just isn’t working.
When people hear “minimum bet law” they might think what’s the smallest stake you can put on a bet, but that’s actually an easy answer. The “actual” minimum bet in the UK is very small. For example, you can bet 5p with SkyBet and £2 with Betfair Exchange. The biggest question is will the UK government introduce a minimum liability law that says bookmakers have to lay a bet to lose £1,000 or even £500? This is something that’s been talked about for years, but action has been very slow-moving.
It’s something the bookmakers don’t want, and they will spend millions trying to avoid it.
What Is A Minimum Liability Law?
Minimum liability law is a law that states each bookmaker would have to “lay to lose” a certain amount per bet. For example, say the minimum liability was £500 they would have to accept a bet of £50 at 10/1.
With all the stake restrictions, account closures and just general poor behaviour from bookmakers over the last number of years, this is something punters have been trying to get behind. Just look at this article from the Guardian. It says that a minimum bet law would be a winner for punters, but guess what, the article is from 2018, and we’re still here without a minimum bet law.
In a nutshell, the bookmakers in the UK do not want a minimum liability law, and they will do everything they can to avoid one. Usually, their first port of call is to bring in their own “minimum liability law” and control the situation. This has already happened. You’ll see some firms lay to lose a minimum of £500 but it will have to be after 11 am in the morning on horse racing and a certain grade of race. These are the races and times when there is little value left in the market. The market movers have already been formed, and the firm become “brave.” It’s a shame that this is acceptable and that nothing is really done about it.
The UK government seem to be fine with this unfairness towards UK punters. However, is that any wonder when you see some MPs wined and dined by the bookmakers at big sporting events?
The gambling regulator also seems totally fine with the situation, which is strange considering that a tiny percentage of punters would actually not be in favour of minimum liability law. And when I say tiny, I mean less than 1% – who would really be against it?
Benefits Of Minimum Bet Law:
Before we get into the benefits of a minimum bet law, let’s look at what will happen from here. You have to be realistic, and this is the likely path forward:
- Bookmakers introduce a self-created minimum bet law.
- If bookmakers make money from this, it is expanded and stays.
- If bookmakers lose money, then it goes away forever.
It’s a real shame, but that’s basically where we are. The gambling regulator seems useless. By and large, the main problem within the horse racing industry when it comes to matters like this is that the gambling companies have the media in their back pocket. Would At The Races or the Racing Post survive without bookmaker-funded money? Just look at the adverts you see on their websites and TV – that’s your answer. There is basically no major media outlet that isn’t in the back pocket of the bookmakers, and that’s why we never see betting restrictions or account closures in the mainstream. It’s just not allowed.
We’ve seen how a minimum liability law can work very well. Check out this article from Australia in 2016, which is a lifetime ago now. It’s only when you look at the year the article was posted, you realise what little progress we’ve made in the UK. In 2016, bookmakers limiting account and closing accounts was a big issue and five years later nothing has been done or changed. If anything it’s got worse.
The minimum bet law works very well in Australia, and since that article was posted in 2-16 it has come into force in more states. The bookmakers have to be sharper with their odds, and not just blindly copy each other with no faith in their prices. They had to go back to traditional bookmaking when they took an opinion and stood by their prices. All of the bookmakers actually have a limit of $2,000 for decent races and $1,000 for the smaller races. It makes the UK firms look laughable, to be honest.
What’s Coming For The Gambling Industry?
Although nobody knows for certain how the gambling industry will change in the next five years, it is interesting (and fun to be honest), to try and see into the future. Think back five years, would you have thought the landscape would be the way it is now? I have to say, looking through those old articles I linked to in this article, I would have thought we (the punters) would have made more progress. It is a big challenge trying to get the bookmakers to bring in something they don’t want to do. If I had to guess, I would say we won’t see the minimum liability law changed within the next five years either.
In my opinion, we’ll see the squeeze put on punters will more affordability checks. This is ironic considering if you win money the bookmaker will just limit your account. This is terribly frustrating, as we know the bookmakers have the technology to find winning accounts – so why can’t they limit accounts with dangerous betting patterns? I’m sure the affordability checks will be a bugbear for punters in the next year. The ironic thing again here is the bookmakers will be in charge of making the affordability rules – I mean you couldn’t make it up, and the gambling commission has a lot to answer for!