In the midst of the Cheltenham Festival, now seems like as good a time as any to try and answer one of the age-old questions of punting.
With many people betting online these days, the tatty old betslip is slowly becoming a thing of the past. But plenty do still get their bets on at their local bookmakers’ shop, with an on-course bookie or at a football stadium’s concourse, so it pays to a) keep hold of your betting slips when written and b) know what to do if your little bit of A7 paper does go walkabouts.
If Darren Hope had kept hold of his betslip, he might not know be chasing BoyleSports through the courts for the alleged £5 million that he won (notwithstanding the fact that the Irish firm has a maximum payout of £500,000 for major football events).
The Coventry man has been in the papers this week with a story that began to unfold back in 2019. Hope backed Liverpool to beat Barcelona 4-0 in a Champions League tie at Anfield, took Tottenham to defeat Ajax 3-2 in Amsterdam and then had the Reds to beat Spurs in the final – he stuck £20 on at odds of around 250,000/1.
Unfortunately, he has no concrete proof that the wager was ever placed – the betslip cannot be found after Hope allegedly handed it over to shop staff when his ‘win’ was confirmed.
And the plot thickens yet further with BoyleSports’ claim that they didn’t even have a betting shop in Coventry at the time – despite a police log revealing Hope staged a protest in the store two months before the bookmaker claimed it had opened.
The Punter has contacted both Action Fraud and the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) for help, but neither have been able to assist. “I’d be living in a new house if I had that money. I even went to a Ford garage to order a Mustang. I feel very let down,” Hope said. “This has caused me a lot of stress, a lot of sleepless nights. I feel betrayed.”
So let’s consider two questions that come out of this situation:
What Happens If I Lose My Betslip?
When you place a bet in a bookies’ shop, the details you scribble down in biro are transferred to the firm’s system by the desk staff – ensuring it exists both digitally and in paper form. Often, you can even ask for a receipt so that you have an additional copy to hand.
If you lose your betslip, the first thing to do is head back to the bookmakers and fill out a form that includes details of the bet (e.g. horses or teams backed and stake size) and the time and date that it was placed. This will then be sent to the firm’s central trading team, who will look to access it on their database.
Hopefully, it will be located and you will be paid out – always take a form of ID just in case.
If your betslip cannot be located on the system, that’s when problems can arise – there’s simply no proof that the wager was accepted. And you may need to escalate your claim to ‘complaint’ status.
How to Make a Complaint Against a Bookmaker
The first thing you need to do is take your complaint right to the very top of the betting firm in question – contact their customer support team, and ensure your query is raised with management personnel there.
If no resolution can be found, your case will be considered to be ‘in deadlock’ – and this is where you would turn to an independent adjudicator for support.
My advice would be to utilise the same IBAS service as Darren Hope did in the story outlined above. They are the main independent adjudication outfit for the industry, and will look at your case after you have raised a complaint form with them.
They will look at the facts and decide upon a course of action if they feel you have a legitimate claim – as they did for one Smarkets customer back in 2016.
Tony Mapplebeck had laid a 1.01 shot at a Leicester Racecourse meeting, putting down £35 to return just over £3,300. Curiously, the backer had gotten into the market BEFORE the race had begun – creating a fantastic opportunity for the eagle-eyed layer.
When the horse indeed didn’t win, Mapplebeck was paid out as normal – however, Smarkets would later take the money back, claiming that a ‘significant user error’ was at play and that the backer’s account had been hacked.
IBAS came down on the side of Mapplebeck, citing that Smarkets’ terms and conditions confirm that they are not to be held responsible for ‘mistakes’ on the part of their customers.