Sky Bet Honcho Flint Denies Bookmakers Close or Restrict Winners

“No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.”

So reads a ubiquitous placard that is meant to keep undesirables from tarnishing a business’ image.

“We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone,” reads another, although that one is slightly harder to enforce, as all anyone being refused need do is claim to be a member of a protected class.

“If You Win Too Many Punts, the Bookmaker Reserves the Right to Restrict or Close Your Account.”

That last one is never seen, at least not on any of the horseracing tracks or online bookmaker websites, but it is far more common and real than the first two, so much so in fact, that the British House of Lords conducted a seminar titled, “Are bookmakers unfairly closing customer accounts.”

While we find it reassuring that Parliament is focusing on the sort of issues that prevents them from doing any clear damage, everyone in the world where online gambling is permitted knows that the answer to the question posed in the Parliamentary seminar title is a resounding, “Yes, bookmakers are closing customer accounts.”

The question of fairness remains.

Richard Flint, the chief executive of UK based bookmaker Sky Bet, said, apparently with a straight face, “Contrary to myth, we don’t close accounts simply because a customer is winning.”

Flint then added an important caveat, “We run a business, not a public service. We run it to be a commercial success. We must have the ability to say no to customers who we believe will be unprofitable for us in the longer term.”

The bookmaker industry has countered allegations that they are “losers only” types of operations by closing accounts of small stakers and punters whose accounts remain inactive for long periods. Bookmakers also call time on punters who are losing too much, especially if those punters’ accounts do not hold sufficient funds to sustain the losses.

A suggestion by Simon Rowlands, the chair of the Horserace Bettors’ Forum was entertained by Flint. That proposal is to impose minimum bets as a way to keep accounts open.

Given the fierce level of competition with which bookmakers deal, where online bets of $0.10 are accepted…

What are the odds of that happening?

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