We couldn’t end the year without awarding Fair Wagering Australia’s “Worst Bookmaker 2013”.
We determine the worst bookie to be the one that is the most unfair to punters – particularly those that happen to win more often than they lose.
It was a very strong field this year, headed by UK-owned Ladbrokes, Bet365 and Sportingbet, but honorable mentions also go to the homegrown Luxbet and Betezy.
But there can only one winner. Envelope please. Drumroll…..
And the winner is…. Bet365!!! To accept the award, please welcome American film and television actor Samuel L Jackson.
Thanks Samuel, short but sweet.
An unethical bookie where winners are shown the door with astonishing haste.
Winning accounts are closed, successful clients are offered minuscule bets.
Bets are rejected, prices are cut.
Restrictions are placed, bonus winnings are removed.
Bet365 operate under an appallingly one-sided set of terms and conditions which even in the words of the compliant Northern Territory Racing Commission are “harsh” and “restrictive”.
The same regulator even hauled a representative before the commission to fully explain their practices.
It has also become clear in recent times that Bet365 is to TV cricket coverage what Tom Waterhouse was to the NRL. You can’t watch a boundary scored without a Bet365 logo in your face or a Michael Clarke century without a follow up Samuel L Jackson TV spot.
Waterhouse at 8pm on the NRL is one thing, but copping it in the middle of the afternoon during the country’s most popular national family sport is another thing altogether. Targeting kids? Doubtful. Irresponsible? Absolutely.
How have Bet365 largely escaped the tirade directed at Tom Waterhouse after his irresponsible over saturating advertising? Cricket Australia and Channel Nine must assume some of the blame as well.
While it’s clear that operations in Australia haven’t all gone according to plan – the local arm is believed to have lost AUD$36 million in its first year (in-play restrictions hurt immensely) – the company certainly is a Goliath.
On figures from its last financial year of reporting (ending March ‘13), operating profit was up 54% to AUD$327 million on a staggering turnover of in excess of AUD$36 billion from over two million active clients.
Previously, the non-listed privately-held company has rarely shared its financial numbers. The family behind the multi-billion dollar enterprise – Peter Coates, his daughter Denise (CEO), and son John, are worth over AUD$1.7 billion – just 13 years after they launched the firm.
The family’s controlling interest in Premier League football club Stoke City actually drained the company of over AUD$50 million last year. But the most mind-blowing number is that the company is sitting on over AUD$780 million of cash reserves. Sheeeeeshhh! indeed.
Apparently, one doesn’t accumulate that sort of wealth by betting both winners and losers. It’s more a case of one winning family and millions of losers.
We say that having a bookmaker’s license in Australia shouldn’t just be a license to print money. It’s a form of gambling where winners have to be tolerated. Bookmakers must be forced to bet both losers and winners to win a reasonable amount.
Bookmaking needs to get back to being a duel between oddsmaker and punter, not a one-sided massacre.
So congratulations go to Bet365, Fair Wagering Australia’s Worst Bookmaker 2013.
Stay tuned to the FWA in 2014 as we continue our quest to bring back fairness to wagering in Australia.