Don’t take a gamble when it comes to online betting

DAS Law solicitor Simon Roberts gives you the inside track on online betting.

15th March 2022

As covid restrictions are lifted, we are slowly returning to normal and outdoor events are making a welcome return. And this includes horse racing, one of the largest spectator sports in the UK. The Cheltenham Festival 2022 is taking place between 15 and 18 March and racing enthusiasts from across the globe are getting ready to ‘back’ their favourite runners and riders.

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 ‘incredible’ odds. 

Whilst these sites may look genuine, it is worth remembering that often if something looks too good to be true, the odds are it is. But how can you check if a betting site is legitimate and what are your legal options if your online bookmaker 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 does not 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 does not resolve the matter 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 can be made.

The sites often ask for lots of personal information and proof of identification to join. Is it safe to share this information?

Online gambling sites are required to confirm the identities of their customers to comply with regulatory and legal requirements. As a minimum licenced online gambling businesses must verify your name, address and date of birth.

It is wise to be wary of providing your personal details to third parties for use in opening online accounts. The gambling commission website gives some useful guidance on the types of information you may be asked to provide to verify yourself.

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 company’s complaints process.

Need more help?

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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.

Simon Roberts

Senior Associate, Solicitor

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