What Bookmaker Protection Levels Mean and How They Help You
You need to feel safe when betting online. Yet, you may be worried about the risk of bookmakers going bust. What will happen to your money in this case? This really depends which bookie you have been dealing with.
To understand how this would work, you need to know about protection levels. What are they and how do they work?
The Worst Case Scenario
This issue was brought sharply into focus at the start of 2020. Betting firm Mo Play was declared insolvent and had their gambling license revoked. The site went offline and they stopped processing customer withdrawals.
You may wonder how they could do this. A statement from Mo Play pointed out clause 9 of their terms and conditions. This clause stated what would happen if they became insolvent. “Your funds would not be considered separate to the other company assets”. This was followed by “and you may not receive all your funds back”.
In this case, it was clearly stated in the conditions of membership. Yet, it is fair to say that most people never even read this. Therefore, now is a good moment to look at the issue of protection levels in detail.
What Does the Gambling Commission Say?
The UK Gambling Commission regulates betting in this country. They state that one of their roles is to ensure customer funds are safe. However, there is more than one way to do this.
For a start, they say that fund protection levels need to be explained in the terms and conditions. Gambling firms need to tell customers what will happen if they become insolvent. As we saw, Mo Play did this. But it didn’t help their punters in any way.
All gambling companies need to keep customer funds in a separate account. But this is no guarantee that it will be refunded to you. Mo Play did this but this didn’t help their customers in any way either.
The next step is to mention their level of protection. The crucial point here is that the bookmaker decides themselves what level to say. The regulatory body doesn’t assign a level of protection to each one. Therefore, the protection level that you see has been decided by the company.
The idea is that this lets you decide whether to bet with them. What level of protection did Mo Play have? Unsurprisingly, it was low, meaning no protection. If more people had known this, they might have avoided them.
So, this protection level isn’t really a guarantee either. However, it is a good sign of how they are of meeting their obligations. The company has to explain the level these chose in their terms and conditions. Yet, most people aren’t aware of it.
The Gambling Commission doesn’t approve these ratings. However, they do state that they might check the accuracy of the rating. It seems a bit of a weak rule, to be fair. A regulatory authority that is so strict on other matters should be tougher on this crucial issue.
What Are the Different Levels of Protection?
It is important that you understand these different levels. They are classed as not protected, medium protection or high protection. The not protected status you might see mentioned as low in some cases.
- Not Protected. This is the lowest level. It was the case with Mo Play. If they go bust, your money is seen as part of the company. It is likely that you lose your cash in the event of insolvency.
- Medium Protection. This is slightly better for your peace of mind. A bookie with this level has some sort of arrangement in place to protect you. This might mean an insurance policy of some type. If they go bust, expect to get some or all of your cash back.
- High Protection. Naturally, this is the best choice. The company will hold your money in an account that is separate from the business. In addition, the customer account is independently overseen by someone like an auditor.
Does the Bookmaker Protection Level Really Matter?
Is it really worth going to the bother of finding out the current protection offered by the sites you use? If so, should you cancel your accounts that have no protection?
This is a personal decision for everyone to take on their own. Some people may feel comfortable staying with a bookie who offers no protection at all. Others might want to immediately change to a high protection bookmaker.
It is worth thinking about your own profile and activity. If you only ever bet small amounts you might be less bothered. Perhaps you never have more than a few pounds in your account at any time. The best idea is to not keep any money in the unprotected accounts.
On the other hand, what if you are serious about betting? You might hold large sums in your account all the time. Perhaps you want to earn from matched betting by squeezing every last offer.
Ask yourself one thing. How would you feel if you lost the money in this account? Would you be furious? Would it ruin your life? People are always advised to never bet with money they can’t afford to lose.
This is solid advice for everyone to stick to. But you might lose the cash through no fault of your own. If the bookie goes bust with no protection, your betting strategy goes up in smoke.
Don’t just assume that the industry’s biggest names all have high levels of protection. They don’t. Some of the biggest household names offer no extra protection. Of course, they will probably never go bust.
Yet, they might. You simply never know when a company might crumble. You could be left feeling foolish if you trusted them purely on their reputation. This leads us nicely to the question of what exactly you should be doing.
What Should You Do?
The first step is to understand this matter fully. Remember that funds in a bookie account aren’t automatically protected. It isn’t like your own bank account, which is protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. There is nothing like this in the gambling world.
Once you are clear on this, it’s time to look at individual bookies. I will look at the protection levels of different companies at the end. You will want to see whether you are currently protected or not.
You are now in a position to make an informed decision. If you currently use a bookie with a high level of protection then great. There is nothing more for you to worry about on this matter.
The medium level gives you something else to think about. This is a decent level of protection for your funds. If you never have huge amounts in your account you might be satisfied. Especially if it is a bookmaker that you trust.
Those with no protection have someone more difficult to chew over. If this bookie goes bust, you could be left whistling in the wind for your money. This bookie has nothing in place to protect you. So there is every chance you lose your money if they go bust.
Would you be happy to carry on with this company? You might decide that now is the moment to try another. Ideally, someone who offers a high level of protection to players.
Then again, you might only put small amounts in here. You might think that it is worth the risk. After all, you could be winning more off them than you could ever lose in the event of insolvency.
What If You Have Doubts About a Bookie?
Sometimes, customers get a whiff of something being wrong early on. The bookie might be slow in paying out. This is especially worrying if they are normally fast. Any change to their process could be a sign of financial stress.
You might also see bigger offers. Betting companies can get desperate to bring in new funds. If they need cash urgently then their offers might get almost unbelievably good. As with most things in life, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. It could be one last desperate attempt to stay afloat.
A bookmaker in trouble might also stop answering questions. They might be getting inundated with questions from worried punters. Even the bookie’s staff might be in the dark. Silence from a bookie might be confirmation that all is not well.
Or you might see rumors on betting message boards. People may pick up on potential problems long before they are officially reported. If you have any doubts then check out some forums. You are likely to see it is being discussed on here.
In the case of the bookmaker having money problems, you have a choice. The smartest thing is to withdraw all of your cash. If there are serious doubts about them, plenty of others will be doing this soon. You need to be fast. Don’t wait for them to confirm the problem.
You don’t need to close the account. Just take out the money from it. This will put your mind at ease. Even if the bookie doesn’t go bust, you won’t have lost anything.
What If You Are Too Late to Withdraw Funds?
In this case, the protection on offer is even more important. This is because there appears to be the risk of them going bust with your money. If you haven’t already thought about this then it is now urgently needed.
The truth is that bookmakers hardly ever go bust. This is especially true with the bigger names in the industry. It clearly isn’t impossible, as we have seen. However, it isn’t something that happens very often.
It is more likely that the bookmaker carries on as normal. They might get bought out by another bookmaker or merge with someone. It is more common for this to happen than for a struggling bookie to go under.
Yet, you can’t be sure of this. Unless you have a high level of protection, all you can do is hope for the best.
Some of the other gambling firms to have gone bust in the last few years are as follows.
- Canbet started to worry people with their huge offers. They then started showing signs of delaying transactions, but put it down to technical issues. Finally, they shut down at the start of 2014. Apparently, players lost more than £1 million with them.
- Bet Butler. This site started out in 2011. However, they were soon losing more than they were earning. Bonus amounts started increasing. Their communication with customers also started to disappear. As people rushed to withdraw in 2014, the firm collapsed. It was eventually bought out by Momaco, who agreed to honour all outstanding customer funds,
See the Different Protection Levels for Bookmakers and Casinos
At the time of writing, the following lists show you the current status of each gambling firm in the UK. This may change in the future. Always check their terms and conditions before signing up or making a decision on them.
You might be surprised to see so many names on this list. Even more surprising is the fact that there are so many big names, in there.
Red Zone Sports
There is also a large number of companies that offer medium protection to their customers.
High Level of Protection
Are you surprised to see that this is the shortest section? The truth is that there are very few companies with this high level of player protection. They include some of the industry’s biggest players, though.
Bookmaker Protection Levels Summary
If you bet with one of the high level firms, your money is protected. There is no risk of losing cash if they go bust. Medium gives you a degree of protection. Not protected means exactly what it says.
It is up to each player to decide how important this matter is to them. After thinking about it, you can make a decision based on your own situation and needs.