For one reason another, somebody (most likely a friend or family member) might ask you to place a bet on their behalf. While this may sound perfectly fine, betting for someone else is usually not permitted by bookmakers or casinos. In reality, it is very difficult to police, especially when done infrequently and involving small amounts but you are running a risk by facilitating bets for others.
Do not think this is simply a case of bookies being intentionally awkward just so they have an opportunity not to pay out some bets. As you will soon find out, there are genuinely valid reasons why all betting accounts are designed for strictly personal use only.
Online Betting: Placing a Bet for Someone Else
It can easily happen that a friend asks you if you would do them a favour and stick a few quid on the favourite for an upcoming race, or on the outcome of a particular football match. There are a lot of reasons why they would ask you rather than simply do it themselves and many can be perfectly innocent. Maybe their phone ran out of battery, or they left it at home or perhaps they cannot make a deposit into their own account immediately. Alternatively, it you might be that they are on holiday abroad and geo-restrictions prevent them from betting using their regular account.
Bookmaker Rules Do Not Allow It
It almost seems rude not to help your friend out in such an instance, especially when they promise they will cover the cost of the bet. Indeed, bets like this certainly happen on a regular basis but they are not technically allowed, no matter how small the stake. The issue is that bookmakers will usually state somewhere in their terms and conditions that all transactions on an account must be made by and for the account holder. That is to say that accounts are strictly for personal use only, rather than for placing wagers on behalf of a third party.
Although ‘acting on behalf of a third party’ may seem something of a stretch when you are just slapping a £5 bet on Real Madrid for a mate, it still technically falls within the definition. If signing up at one particular major bookie, for example, “you agree that you will not use the services in any way other than for your personal use and for your own benefit. Any bets or wagers placed through your account that are not for your own benefit are forbidden.” Exceptions to this rule are only possible if the bookmaker explicitly agrees in writing to temporarily wave this restriction, something that is not likely to happen.
Online Betting: Letting Someone Use Your Account to Place a Bet
Rather than you doing all the legwork, you might prefer to tell your friend that they can simply use your online betting account to place a wager. As there are funds available in the account, your account would be funding and facilitating the wager even if you are not the one tapping the screen or clicking the buttons. Obviously, you would only share your account details with a friend or family member you trust a great deal but even so, bookmakers are very clear that you should never do this, no matter how close the contact is.
Check the terms and conditions of any bookmaker and they will make it very clear that allowing someone else to use your account is a breach of their regulations. It is considered such a serious breach in fact that if caught, many bookies will cancel all active bets and close the account. Exactly how you might be found out is hard to imagine but it is still worth bearing in mind before you allow a friend or relative access to your account. From the bookie’s perspective, it is understandable too given how important online security is because the more people that know your details, the more chance of some unauthorised activity taking place.
Betting In-Store: Are the Rules Different?
It may be a harder to spot instances of betting on behalf of someone else in a high street betting shop but that still does not mean it is allowed. The in-store staff have no idea where your cash has come from so they will naturally just assume your are placing a bet, for your own sake, using your own money. It could be though that your sister has asked you to put £20 on the 1:30 at Kempton because she does not have the time.
Providing you did not mention this to the bookie, there is no reason why they would ever question the bet nor deny you any winnings you are entitled to. You might be scratching your head as to why a bookie would want to discourage a bet like this but there are blanket rules in place for good reason as we will now discuss.
Why Can’t I Place Bets for Someone Else?
As most bets placed on behalf of another are perfectly innocent and harmless, the rules in place to stop it do appear needless at times. Indeed, many punters are unaware of them or choose to ignore them. Most instances of this go unnoticed but bookmakers do sometimes catch people out where customers have not been acting in a purely personal capacity.
This is what happened in the case of a 19-year-old student, Megan McCann, in 2016 who placed bets totalling £24,960. A payout of £1,009,793 was due but the bookie blocked this and also withheld the original stake, suspecting that McCann had acted as an intermediary for the bet.
It was never precisely revealed what the outcome of this protracted legal case was. Potentially, the two parties reached some form of settlement but it was also possible that McCann’s legal team pulled out as they saw no real chance of success. There was also a case in Australia in which one punter, Mr Brunker, was denied his winnings as there was a strong suspicion that his account was being used by Mr Canty, who himself had his own account closed a few days prior. This case ended with the decision that “the wager placed on the account of Mr Brunker to be not lawful.”
Preventing Money Laundering
Bookmakers and casinos have often been a target for criminal groups or individuals looking to ‘clean’ their money. Many casinos games have a payout rate of around 95% so this means if £10,000 of dirty money is pumped in, then on average £9,500 of ‘clean’ money is legitimately paid out. It is a process that has been exploited for years but gambling shops and sites are under strict instructions to clamp down on anything they suspect might be a laundering attempt. Where bookmakers fail to perform the necessary checks, they do end up fined and often for quite sizeable amounts as it is deemed to be a serious breach of regulations.
So, while there are generally more anti-money laundering checks than before, criminal groups can seek to bypass them by hiring mules. Often university students or other financially vulnerable groups, these individuals will place bets using laundered money in an attempt to clean it. According to the UK Gambling Commission “there is evidence that OCGs (Organised crime gangs) are using this method, with links to drug and people trafficking, to move large amounts of illicit proceeds through a dispersed network of accounts to ensure financial threshold triggers are not alerted.”
It was worth noting that not all mules are aware of their participation in the bets as their details could be being used without their knowledge. Whether knowingly or unknowingly though, these accounts are placing bets on someone else’s behalf.
Preventing Under-Age Gambling
Much like how it is illegal to buy alcohol for a person who is under 18, it is also illegal to place a bet on behalf of someone under age. Note that this does not include a private bet, say between a father and son. If they wish to place a straight-up wager between themselves this is perfectly acceptable regardless of the son’s age. The illegality comes if you place a commercial bet on behalf of a child or young adult who is younger than the legal limit. So, sticking with the same situation, the dad cannot legally take £5 of his son’s money to the bookie’s because the son wants to bet on the winner of the FA Cup final.
This is naturally very difficult to police but it does act as a deterrent for some adults that might otherwise agree to place bets for children. This in turn stops fewer underage teenagers getting a real taste for gambling before their 18th birthday. That said, in reality, many children in the UK have probably had bets placed for them by a parent or grandparent on the Grand National or other huge event. This is virtually impossible to stop and most would view it as relatively harmless, in the scheme of things.
There are several reasons why a player may end up losing access to their online betting account. In some cases, the action may be voluntary as they have decided to take a break because of a gambling addiction, or threat of gambling addiction. By signing up to GAMSTOP, players can prevent themselves from accessing all gambling websites and apps operating within Great Britain. This gets them completely out of the system and allows them focus on their recovery.
It could also be though that the bookmaker or casino has decided to ban a player. This will usually happen when they have breached the terms and conditions, or sometimes because they have been winning too much money or hitting the bookmaker when their odds have been out of line. Whatever the reason though, placing bets on behalf of another player can end up bypassing a ban or self-exclusion period. So, to protect either the bookmaker or player, this is another reason why facilitating bets for someone else is not permitted.
Indeed, this may well be one of the major reasons why bookies ban customers betting for other people. Professional gamblers and those operating on a semi-pro basis, as well as other forms of advantage gambler, such as those who use arbitrage betting or exploit free bets, will tend to be spotted relatively quickly by bookmakers. Their accounts are typically closed or limited quite rapidly as the bookie seeks to protect their earnings and business.
One way around this is to have a network of people who are prepared to grant you access to their accounts. Small-scale punters may simply ask a few friends to open accounts that they can use, or get family members to do likewise. More serious gamblers will typically “buy” new accounts via the dark web or other similar underground networks. This can all still prove hard for the bookmaker to stop but at least by forbidding it in their Ts and Cs they have a legal basis on which to try and combat it.
All the reasons above can prevent serious harm from occurring but even ignoring these for one moment, not placing bets for others is just a sensible thing to do. When large sums of money are involved, there is potential for things to get ugly even if the person involved is someone you know very well. It is not too hard to imagine that a friend claims they forgot to put your bet on, when in actual fact they did and they are keeping all the winnings. Similarly, it might be that the friend simply refuses to pay you the stake back, so it is your account that ends up taking the hit for their failed bet.
So, even simply to minimise the potential for any fallout or arguments, it is good practice to always bet using your own money on your own account. However, this also links in to another reason why bookies forbit third party activity on betting accounts. Should a punter lose a lot of money it is not unheard of for them to claim that it wasn’t them and that someone else must have accessed their account. True or not, this creates a complicated picture where the account holder may try and sue to claim back losses that they argue are not theirs. Once again, by forbidding third party use, the bookie has a legal foundation on which to base their defence.
Can I Copy Bets from Tipsters?
As briefly mentioned above, sometimes a bookmaker may decide to block or limit how much a punter can spend if they are simply winning too much money on a consistent basis. In such cases, this savvy bettor may decide they are better off sharing their tips online, perhaps in exchange for a small subscription fee. Even if using a paid professional tips service though, there is nothing stopping you from placing whatever bets they recommend.
This is because you are responsible for the entire stake and it is you that will collect all the winnings if the bet is successful. You are not betting on behalf of the tipster, you are simply using their knowledge and this is a key difference. If the tipster asked you, due to their blocked account, to wager £100 of their money on a horse race, this is a different matter as then you are facilitating their bet. Providing all the money involves is yours though, you will not be breaching the terms and conditions of the betting website.