How bookmakers deal with winning customers

888, an online betting firm, was fined a record £7.8m ($10.3m) in August after more than 7,000 customers who had chosen to ban themselves from their betting accounts were allowed to retain access. Yet away from the regulator’s gaze, bookies often stand accused of the opposite excess: being too prompt to shun winning customers. Successful bettors complain that their accounts get closed down for what are sometimes described as business decisions. Others say their wagers get capped overnight to minuscule amounts. The move may be unpopular with punters, but in most parts of the world it is legal.

Operators say scrutinising winners is necessary to help prevent fraud. Competition in the gambling industry increased with the arrival of online betting, prompting bookmakers to offer odds on markets they did not previously cover. In some, such as Eastern European football leagues, low wages and late payments make fertile ground for match-fixing. A winning streak at the windows can signal foul play. Most often, however, efforts to spot savvy customers are not rooted in a desire to thwart dodgy schemes. Rather, they are part of what industry insiders call “risk management”: to remain profitable, bookies seek to cap potential losses. As one betting consultant puts it, “Bookmakers close unprofitable accounts, just as insurance companies will not cover houses that are prone to flooding.” Betting outlets get to know their customers by gleaning information online, tracking web habits and checking whether punters visit odds-comparison sites. Profiling has also been made easier by the tightening of anti-money laundering regulations, which require online punters to provide detailed information when opening accounts.

Professional gamblers rarely do business with high-street bookmakers. They often place their trades on betting exchanges like Betfair or Smarkets, which do not restrict winning customers (though Betfair charges a premium to some of its most successful users). Alternatively they work with those bookmakers who use successful gamblers to improve the efficiency of their betting markets, and make most of their money on commission. These profess not to limit winning accounts and accept much bigger bets (Pinnacle, an influential bookie, often has a $1m limit for major events). Betting professionals also sneak in big trades via brokers, like Gambit Research, a British operation that uses technology to place multiple smaller bets with a range of bookmakers. Asian agents, in particular, have made their names in that trade: many are able to channel sizeable bets to local bookies anonymously. Unlike the sports they love, the games played by professional gamblers and bookmakers are kept out of the spotlight.

Sources: The Economist magazine web site.

 

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Bookies bet Trump impeached or leaves office in first term.

presidecyfordummies

There’s already talk of impeachment, just three weeks into Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency. In fact, many are already betting on it.

Gambling houses all over the world are taking in action on whether Trump, inaugurated just last month, will resign or be impeached. And the odds aren’t as long as you might think.

Immediately after his election win in November, the odds of Trump staying in the Oval Office for four years were 3/1, indicating a 25% chance he’d leave early. Now a little more than three weeks into his tenure, the odds have been slashed to 11/10, putting a 47% chance that he’ll resign or be impeached

Ladbrokes, the British oddsmaking giant, has Trump’s chances of leaving office via resignation or impeachment and removal at just 11-to-10, or just a little worse than even money. The odds of Trump being impeached this year in the House of Representatives are only 4-to-1, according to the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, despite GOP control of the chamber. You can win $180 on a $100 bet with Bovada, the online gaming site, that Trump won’t make it through a full term — though the bet is off if Trump passes away during the next four years. At William Hill WMH, -2.83%  odds point to a 2/1 chance of an impeachment in Trump’s first term.

All in all, Trump has meant big business for the international gambling industry. There’s always been betting on politics — mostly as a novelty around election season — but professional bookies say Trump’s unlikely victory and tumultuous transition mean that gamblers are jonesing to wager on his presidency.

“From a betting perspective, Donald Trump’s presidency has triggered a massive boom for these kinds of markets,” said Alex Donohue, the PR manager of Ladbrokes. “With Donald Trump, everything he does, it can be turn into speculation, and that can be turned into gambling.”

Any actual movement on impeachment wouldn’t come until Americans have turned on Trump en masse. And while Trump is the least-popular newly-elected president in modern history, he retains a core of support that has yet to abandon him. Trump’s approval rating is 45 percent, according to the most recent HuffPost Pollster average — slightly lower than his 50-percent disapproval rating. At the same point in his own presidency, Barack Obama’s approval rating was 63 percent, with 23 percent disapproving of his performance.

But that isn’t stopping bettors all over the world from wagering on the possibility. Ladbrokes says it has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in bets on the future of Trump’s presidency — down from the “millions and millions” bet on the election, but far more than usual at the start of a new administration.

Lewis Davey, a spokesman at Paddy Power, called the early days of Trump’s presidency a “roller-coaster,” and noted the widespread public interest in betting on its future.

“With such little political experience and a rocky start in the White House, it’s understandable people have their doubts on Trump,” Davey said. “We’re currently offering 4-to-1 for Trump to be impeached in the first six months.”

Read more at Politico.eu and MarketWatch.