During the coronavirus outbreak, few industries have been hit harder than the betting sector.
With no sport to wager on, some punters have been left to feed on the scraps of the occasional event worldwide, eSports, virtual sports and casino gaming.
The longer the sporting blackout goes on, the more difficult the immediate future for betting companies will be.
Some may not survive, such is the financial and legislative hardship that they will face in the months and years ahead, and that may lead to a sense of quiet nervousness amongst their companies.
Indeed, you may already be wondering what happens to the money in your account, among other things, should a betting firm go bust.
So, we’ve tried to answer as many questions of that nature as possible below, and in the table you can see if your money is safe based upon the bookmakers’’ own levels of protection.
What are the Rules Regarding the Protection of Bettors’ Money?
As you may know, in the UK all betting firms must fall in line with the regulations set out by the Gambling Commission (UKGC).
They decree that all companies must set out how their customers’ money is protected should they fall upon hard times and be declared insolvent – which may be of relevance in the coming weeks and months.
The reason for that is simple: the funds in your betting account are not protected by the government, in the same way that your bank account is protected.
Betting firms that operate online, i.e. pretty much all of them, have to keep your money in a separate account – but again, that does not mean you will get your money back should the bookie go to the dogs.
What Types of Protection Are There?
Again, the Gambling Commission has their own guidelines for this, and they have set out three different tiers of customer protection:
- High Protection – Money is held in a separate account that is controlled by an external agency.
- Medium Protection – There are arrangements made to ensure customers get paid if the company goes insolvent.
- No Protection – If the company goes bust, all customer money is lost.
That shows the importance of researching the level of protection that bookmakers have – especially in these tough trading conditions of COVID-19.
With betting firms with high protection, and for those with medium protection in all but the most exceptional of circumstances, you will get the money in your betting account paid back if they go bust.
But here’s something else you should know: each betting company basically decides for themselves which of the above categories they fall into. The UKGC does not approve their own self-rating, but does have the power to request evidence that the level of protection presented is actually genuine.
Where is Your Money More At Risk?
Unfortunately, given the present circumstances no betting firm is completely safe from the ravages of the coronavirus and the financial damage it could/will cause.
Colin Hord, the chairman of the Horse Racing Bettors’ Forum, said:
“In these extraordinary times, each day the coronavirus crisis continues, the likelihood of bookmakers going bust increases.
“For some bettors, this could mean that their hard-earned money is lost for good. While we can do all we can to urge bettors to reduce or move their funds to an account that offers ‘High Protection’, we believe that in this day, bookmakers should no longer be stating on their terms and conditions that there is no guarantee their funds will be returned.”
Of course, you can maximise your chances of being on the right side of the situation by avoiding bookies that have no protection on customer funds – for the time being at least, anyway.
Some of these firms have run into financial or legal troubles of late, and both should be avoided amid the uncertainty of COVID-19.
Which Bookies Will Protect Their Customers’ Money?
Of course, the holy grail for punters is to bet with firms offering complete protection – that way, you can make a deposit with complete peace of mind.
The medium level of protection is interesting: with these firms, you SHOULD get your money back if they go bust unless an auditor decides there has been extraordinary circumstances leading to the firm’s insolvency. Would coronavirus fall into that category?
If you are looking to join a new bookmaker in readiness for the return of sporting action around the world, it might just be worth keeping this list close to hand.