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William Hill horse racing, Ayr Gold Cup Festival. © William Hill

Sports betting is a difficult activity, especially if you want to bet professionally. Casual betting is okay but unlikely to deliver any solid results in the long run, without serious involvement. As far as bookmakers are concerned, recreational players are a godsend as they almost never finish above the profitability line. On the other hand, dealing with skilled punters is an entirely different thing. Many bookmakers have found ways of restricting their activities.

The terms and conditions can shed some light about the restrictions that bookmakers are allowed to place on their members’ accounts. Obviously, only a fraction of those who sign up and bet online actually read these walls of text. Many are surprised when they discover that the bookie stops treating them in a friendly way all of a sudden. There are plenty of ways that bookmakers can restrict their actions. These tricks range from denying bets, limiting the amounts they can wager or downright exclusion.

Play by the Rules and Hope for the Best

The vast majority of those who bet online have no intention to break the rules and do their due diligence to abide by the terms and conditions. There are of course, some people who try to find shortcuts and win money they are not entitled to. Bookmakers claim that they have developed a set of anti-fraud measures to protect themselves from wrongdoers. Unfortunately, some of the less respectable ones use them to restrict or even exclude winning players.

There is no foolproof solution for players to shield themselves from such restrictions. All they can do is to play by the rules. It is also important to sign up with a bookmaker that has a long and impeccable track record. These guys have a lot to lose if they treat customers unfairly and they can’t afford to damage their reputation. In this regard, bookies such as Ladbrokes, William Hill, Bet365, Betfair, Unibet or Betsafe are a better choice. New operators on the other hand can resort to unfair solutions to cut their losses.

High-stakes players are the ones usually targeted by bookmakers when they want to minimize the chances of losing cash. Most of those who bet larger amounts of money online actually use the cash they won by betting in the first place. Only a small minority of losing players keeps investing cash out of pocket over and over again. This is what brings the most satisfaction toonline bookmakers. The operators can easily distinguish between winning and losing players and target the latter, while excluding the former.

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Bookmakers Think that Free Bets are for the Losers

The competition among online gambling operators is so intense that bookmakers and casinos alike can’t afford not to offer bonuses. For sports betting, this usually comes in the form of free bets, in addition to the matched deposit bonuses. Bookmakers tend to offer more such freebies to losing players then successful ones. The logic behind this attitude is simple. They don’t want to provide the best punters with the ammunition to use against them.

Once again, the terms and conditions are the ones that govern the way bonuses of any type are paid out. As a result, the bookmaker’s decision is final. Legally there is very little to do against such a practice, since the operator decides if it offers bonuses. Players who never cash out are more likely to receive promotional offers. Bookmakers go to great lengths to keep them in the loop. By comparison, somebody who invests little money and withdraws often is unlikely to receive anything for free.

Big spenders and those who wager huge amounts of money online are not complaining about this obvious discrimination. They are successful enough as to win money in the more straightforward way. As a result, they don’t rely on bonuses. It is another issue that has emerged as downright annoying and threatens the entire gambling industry. It affects most bookmakers and makes it increasingly difficult to beat the proverbial house edge.

Accounts Limited beyond Reasonable Use

There’s a reason for why bookmakers usually prefer to be licensed in countries where legislation is lax. When they have no choice but to apply for a license, they protect themselves with these terms and conditions. The reasoning is that they want to have the means to close or restrict accounts beyond reasonable use. The term speaks for itself because when such a mechanic in place, players can no longer bet effectively. Sometimes changes are incremental but when the bookies are really concerned, they can ramp up the pressure quickly.

Screenshot of William Hill Bookmakers Greyhound Derby
Screenshot of William Hill Bookmakers Greyhound Derby

Online operators single out successful players and impose gradual restrictions which can culminate with the closure of the account. Apparently they have this right and don’t hesitate to exercise it whenever they feel threatened by successful punters. There are plenty of complaints online about this practice. For obvious reasons, it is unlikely to go away anytime soon. It goes without saying that bookies don’t rush to ban winning customers right away. They usually do so when they cross certain thresholds.

They make full use of the advancements of technology and use software to identify various betting patterns. These are particularly useful when it comes to punters that prefer horse racing, as these are the ones that usually get in their crosshairs. Having said this, this practice includes other sports and some bookmakers go a step further. They employ preemptive measures and even act against those people that haven’t start winning big. Instead, they try to identify those who are likely to emerge victorious.

A Difficult Task for Handicap Bettors

The best bookmakers have a generous offer and cover both important and insignificant competitions. The number of markets available on flagship events frequently exceeds 100 and they tend to get very creative. What the operators don’t want you to know is that they secretly hope that players will abuse accumulators and special markets. This is where the house edge is the biggest and the odds of winning are reduced. That’s why so many offers come with strings attached and compel players to bet on selected markets.

By comparison, handicap bettors are the ones that bookies are concerned about, since they can take advantage of the slightest inconsistencies. The most talented punters know a great deal about the sports they bet on, undertake research and come up with their own systems. They try to find a way of beating the spread and bet incrementally, so they mitigate the risks, while always playing in bankroll. All these actions make perfect sense and are important ingredients in the recipe for success. Sadly, these are also the things that bookies monitore carefully and they have the nasty tendency of punishing these players.

The thing about systems is that they tend to require players to bet increasingly larger amounts. This isn’t a problem if you are winning, since you don’t have to bring more money from outside sources and only use the online profits. The problem is that bookies are quick to limit the size of the best and this renders even the most effective system virtually useless. To go around these restrictions, many players choose to open multiple accounts under the names of friends, so they can keep the money flow going.

Running Out of Options Pretty Quickly

Professional punters have accounts with most bookmakers and this can help them solve the problem in the early stages but eventually their options shrink. As always, when players attempt to cash out, the bookie will require them to provide proof of identity, address and other documents. The larger the amount, the more complex the verification process becomes. That’s why it is recommended to attempt a small cash out immediately after setting up an account, just to stay on the safe side.

This is where friends come in handy, since they can place bets for the actual punter, in return of a small amount or out of friendship. In any case, this process can be tedious and time-consuming, but there is no way around these additional hurdles. Bookmakers leave punters very few options and for the ones who are successful at betting, this is a small price to pay. Depending on national legislation, in some countries these actions could be illegal, although never prosecuted.

The biggest problem for highrollers and serious punters is that the future doesn’t look particularly bright. The most important gambling commissions and licensing bodies don’t do anything to create a fair gaming environment. As far as they are concerned, bookies have the right to limit those people regarded as high-risk clients. Business is booming and hundreds of billions of dollars are made every year by the industry.

Despite making all this money, online gambling operators have no reason to leave their guard. The good news is that casual players and those who bet lower amounts are not too affected by all these provisions. It is the high-stakes players who suffer the most and even though they don’t garner more sympathy, it all comes down to the issue of fairness.

In Conclusion

The online casino industry is thriving and it is unlikely to change anything as long as it has the option of maintaining the status quo. Since only highrollers and those who win a lot of money online suffer directly, there is not enough pressure on them to change their ways. They rely on the house edge to protect their profits and when this doesn’t work, they use whatever means necessary to tip the scales. As for the players, they find alternative ways to deal with a practice that they rightfully regard as unfair.

The thrills of betting are unlikely to go away either and people will keep placing wagers on their favorite sports competitions. While it definitely pays off to be aware of the obstacles that highrollers and highly successful players have to overcome, we should take it one step at a time. Try to come up with a winning system, or use this Short Sports Betting Guide for Aspiring Punters. Do your research and bet smartly. Hopefully one day, your only concern will be how to find a way around the barricades erected by bookies.

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