One of the biggest events in the horse racing calendar is coming up this weekend with people across the country getting ready to ‘back’ their favourite runners and riders with a flutter on the Grand National.
The historic race is a time-honoured tradition that sees millions of us dipping into our pockets as bookies try to attract customers with the best odds. Nevertheless, where there is money to be made, fraudsters are usually not far away with fake online betting sites popping up offering ‘unbelievable’ odds.
However, it’s always worth remembering that if something looks too good to be true, odds are it is. But how can you check if a betting site is legitimate and what are your legal options if your online bookie won’t pay you out?
I have seen online betting sites with amazing odds. How can I check the credibility of the site and make sure it’s not a scam?
The first thing to do would be to check that the organisation that you plan to gamble with is licensed by the UK’s Gambling Commission. Every online gambling business that is licensed is required to display a notice saying that they are licensed by the Gambling Commission with a link to the Commission’s website.
On the Commission’s website there is a license register where you can see what activities a company is able to offer. If a gambling business doesn’t have a license, it is acting illegally and you would be wise to avoid placing any bets with them.
What recourse do I have if a winning bet is not paid out?
Gambling businesses are obliged to offer a complaints procedure. If a winning bet is not paid out, the first thing would be to lodge a formal complaint. Under the Gambling Commission’s guidelines, this should be resolved in a maximum of eight weeks.
If the complaint is not resolved to your satisfaction, the matter can then be referred to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider. If the ADR provider then doesn’t resolve matters to your satisfaction, legal action is an option and in the case of a winning bet not being paid out, a breach of contract claim.
If I place a bet using a credit card and my winnings are not paid, can I claim my money back from my credit card provider?
Ordinarily, if you buy goods or services on a credit card, of value between £100 -£30,000 and something goes wrong, then s75 Consumer Credit Act 1974 may assist because the law states that a credit company will have equal liability for any breach of contract. So if a gambling business is in breach of contract and payment was made on a credit card, then it would be good advice to contact your credit card provider as well as following the business’ complaints procedure.
The sites often ask for lots of personal information and proof of identification to join. Should I share this with them?
Online gambling sites are required to confirm the identities of their customers to comply with regulatory and legal requirements. But it is wise to be wary of providing your personal details to third parties for use in opening online accounts. If you are concerned about the amount of information or ID being requested, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid them.
What happens if I have a complaint? Is there an official body I can complain to?
If there is any concern as to whether a gambling business is licensed, for example, concerns should be raised with the Gambling Commission. Otherwise, it would be advisable to follow the complaints process (as described above).
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.