Survey open from 3 April to 30 April 2016

878 respondents

Q1: in the last six months, how many accounts have you had restricted?

Total reported: 4576

75% reported six or fewer accounts restricted. Three accounts restricted was the median and one account restricted was the mode (138 reports). 93 of the 878 respondents reported no account restrictions in the past six months.

Q2: in the last six months how many accounts have you had closed?

Total reported: 1583

81% reported two or fewer accounts closed. Exactly half of the respondents (439) reported no accounts having been closed.

Approximately three times as many accounts were reported as having been restricted as closed.

Q3: please choose the bookmakers who have closed or restricted you in the last six months [from specified options]. Fill in any others at the end.

The highest figures were as follows: Paddy Power, 394; Coral, 383; Betfair Sportsbook, 382; Boylesports, 345; Ladbrokes, 344; and Stan James, 329.

It should be noted that these figures will be, at least in part, a function of the size of the companies involved.

Q4: have you had accounts closed or restricted for sports other than horseracing?

Yes, 46%; No, 54%

Q5: have account closures or restrictions reduced your interest in betting on horseracing?

Yes, 59%; No, 41%

HBF regards this finding as one of the most significant of the survey. If taken at face value, this represents a significant reduction in the appeal of betting on horseracing (and by implication of interest in horseracing itself) as a result of individual closures/restrictions.

Respondents could then choose up to five bookmakers and answer more detailed questions. 577 respondents chose to do so.

Q6: what were the reasons given to you for restrictions or closures (choose as many as apply)?

Traders’ or trading decision, 50%; No reason given, 37%; all others were 2% or less.

Approximately 95% of those who responded in this section had been told “traders’ or trading decision” or had been given no reason for at least one of the accounts that had been restricted/closed.

HBF also regards this as an important finding of the survey. Many customers of individual bookmakers report having little or no explanation for closures or restrictions. This may seem acceptable to an individual bookmaker but is bound to have consequences for the appeal of betting on the sport more widely.

Q7: why do you think the account was closed or restricted (please choose as many as apply)?

I only used the bookmaker when they were offering the best price, 40%; I was making too much profit on the account, 36%; I only used them for special offers, 13%; I was arbing prices on exchanges, 5%; I bet selectively on EW races, 5%; all others were 1% or less.

Q8: why did you open the account?

Because I needed to open an account with another bookmaker, 30%; to take advantage of a special offer, 26%; in response to an advert, 23%; “other”, 15%; because they were recommended to me, 6%.

HBF notes with interest that only a small number of those surveyed reported opening an account on a personal recommendation. In a recent Deloitte paper, personal recommendation was identified as the largest influence in making purchases. Negative experiences with one bookmaker can have wider implications for betting in general.

Q9: how many trades on the account before closure?

There was a wide spread of values, from zero (13 reports of being closed before even striking a bet) to ten thousand (two).

The most common were: 100 trades, 69 reports; 50 trades, 44 reports; and 20 trades, 38 reports.

Horseracing Bettors Forum, July 2016