22 Reasons Why Bookies Ban Winners 

 July 17, 2023

By  Philip Borrowman

Imagine this: you've meticulously crafted your betting strategy, spent hours analysing markets, pinpointing value and perfectly timing your bets.

Your diligence pays off, and you begin to see consistent profits rolling in.

Suddenly, without warning, you discover that your bookmaker has either drastically restricted your betting limits or, worse still, closed your account entirely.

This all-too-familiar story has been the unfortunate experience of many successful punters, especially those engaged in matched betting or arbitrage.

We understand the frustration and disappointment that comes with this, particularly when it seems like your success is being penalised. In the world of betting, it's a harsh reality that needs to be confronted and understood.

22 Reasons Why Bookies Ban Winners

Value Detection and Arbing:

Bookmakers don't look favorably on bettors who consistently exploit value opportunities or engage in arbitrage. Arbing is when bettors take advantage of discrepancies between bookmakers' odds to guarantee a profit regardless of the outcome. For example, if Bookmaker A offers odds of 2.0 for Horse A to win and Bookmaker B offers odds of 2.1 for the same horse to lose, a bettor could place opposing bets with each bookmaker and guarantee a profit.

Matched Betting:

Matched betting is a strategy where bettors use free bets and bonuses offered by bookmakers to secure a profit. For instance, a bookmaker might offer a £20 free bet if you stake £10. A matched bettor would place a back bet with the free bet and then lay the same selection on a betting exchange, ensuring a profit regardless of the outcome. Bookmakers often close accounts that regularly engage in matched betting as it doesn't generate profit for them.

finding a value arbing bet

Consistently Winning Bets:

Bookmakers may view consistent winning as a sign of professional betting. If you're constantly winning, you're costing the bookmaker money. For example, if you're consistently winning bets on horses at long odds, the bookmaker may decide your account is too much of a liability and limit or close it.

Betting Large Amounts:

If a bettor is consistently staking large amounts, it may indicate that they have more information than the bookmaker, or they are confident in their betting strategy. Either way, this can be seen as risky for the bookmaker. For instance, if a bettor places £1,000 on a horse at odds of 10.0, and the horse wins, the bookmaker stands to lose £9,000.

Using Betting Syndicates:

Betting syndicates pool resources and knowledge to place larger, more informed bets. This can lead to significant losses for the bookmaker. For instance, a syndicate may pool £10,000 and place it on a horse with odds of 5.0. If the horse wins, the bookmaker will lose £40,000.

Beating the Starting Price regularly:

If a bettor frequently secures odds that are better than the Starting Price (the odds at the time the race starts), they're seen as having a strong ability to predict market movements. For example, consistently backing a horse at 5.0 when the SP ends up being 3.0 shows the bettor has an edge, which may lead the bookmaker to limit the account.

Betting on Obscure Markets:

Obscure or less popular markets are less efficient and potentially more open to exploitation. A bettor consistently betting and winning on a lower league football match or a minor horse racing event might raise suspicion. For instance, if someone regularly places successful bets on a seldom-watched trotting event, the bookmaker might suspect they have insider information or are manipulating the market.

Only Betting when Odds are in Favour:

Some bettors only wager when they perceive the odds to be in their favour. If someone's betting patterns show they only bet when odds are more generous than the likely outcome, the bookmaker might see this as a sign of professional betting. For instance, if a bettor only backs horses at odds of 3.0 when their estimated true odds are 2.5, the bookmaker may decide to limit their account.

Account is not profitable for the bookmaker:

If an account continually results in losses for the bookmaker, it's not commercially viable for them. For instance, if a bettor has placed 100 bets, each at £10, and has won £1500 while losing only £500, the bookmaker has made a net loss of £1000 on that account.

Abusing Bonuses and Promotions:

Bookmakers offer bonuses and promotions to attract new customers and retain existing ones. If a bettor consistently exploits these offers without wagering much at other times, the bookmaker might limit or close their account. For example, a bettor who only bets when a money-back offer or a matched bet is available can be seen as abusing these promotions.

Breaching Terms and Conditions:

Bookmakers lay down terms and conditions to protect their business interests. If a bettor violates these terms, it could lead to their account being closed. For instance, opening multiple accounts to exploit sign-up bonuses is often considered a breach of these terms.

Creating Multiple Accounts:

Some punters create multiple accounts to take advantage of signup bonuses or to continue betting if one of their accounts is limited or closed. For example, a punter might use different identities to open several accounts with the same bookmaker. Bookmakers use sophisticated tools to detect such behaviour and will close any accounts they believe are linked.

Sharing Betting Information:

Bookmakers monitor accounts for signs of coordinated activity. If they believe that information is being shared between accounts, such as several accounts placing the same unusual bet, they may close these accounts. For instance, if several accounts all place a large bet on an obscure market at the same time, this could be seen as suspicious behaviour.

Market Manipulation:

Some bettors attempt to manipulate betting markets by placing large bets to move the odds, then placing an opposing bet when the odds are in their favour. For example, a bettor might place a large bet on a horse to shorten the odds, then lay the same horse at the lower odds, aiming to profit from the disparity.

Betting on Suspicious Events:

Betting on events that turn out to be suspicious can lead to accounts being closed. For example, if a bettor consistently places large bets on horse races where a non-runner is declared just before the race starts, the bookmaker might suspect foul play and close the account.

Unusual Betting Patterns:

Bookmakers monitor betting patterns and unusual patterns can lead to account closure. For example, a punter who usually places small bets on popular markets suddenly placing a large bet on an obscure market might raise suspicions.

Use of Betting Bots:

Some punters use automated software or "bots" to place bets. These tools can give them an advantage over other punters and the bookmaker, especially in fast-moving markets like in-play betting. If a bookmaker detects the use of betting bots, for example, a large volume of bets placed in a short time, they may close the account.

Exploiting Bookmaker Errors:

Bookmakers sometimes make mistakes in pricing markets, and some bettors look to exploit these errors. For instance, if a bookmaker accidentally lists a horse at odds of 50.0 instead of 5.0, a punter who consistently seeks out and exploits such errors may have their account restricted or closed.

Betting at Max Limits regularly:

Bookmakers set limits on the maximum amount that can be bet on particular markets. Bettors who regularly stake at these limits, especially on less popular markets, may have their accounts closed. For instance, consistently staking the maximum allowed on a low-level tennis match might be seen as suspicious.

Regularly Betting on High-Value Odds:

Bettors who consistently bet on high-value odds could pose a risk to the bookmaker. If a punter is continually backing selections at high odds and achieving a high strike rate, this could suggest that they have information the bookmaker doesn't, leading to account restrictions.

Late Betting:

Some punters place their bets as close to the start of an event as possible to make the most of any last-minute information. However, consistently placing large bets just before an event starts might be seen as suspicious and could lead to account closure.

Consistent Usage of Insider Information:

If a bettor consistently places successful bets that appear to be based on insider information, this could lead to their account being closed. For example, a punter who always places successful bets on horses trained by a particular trainer might be suspected of having access to inside information.

Are Bookies Breaking The Law By Banning/Limiting You?

It's a question that many punters ask when they find their accounts limited or closed: Are bookmakers breaking the law? The answer, however, is usually no.

Bookmakers, just like any other business, have the right to choose who they want to do business with, and this extends to their right to limit or close betting accounts.

This practice is typically covered in the terms and conditions that customers agree to when creating an account. In many cases, these terms explicitly state that the bookmaker reserves the right to close or limit accounts at their discretion.

As long as they are not discriminating based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion etc, they are generally within their rights to limit or close accounts.

Take the UK, for example, where the regulatory body, the Gambling Commission, states that an operator can close an account if they believe it is being used for illegal activities, the bettor has breached the terms of their agreement, or they have another valid reason.

They are also clear that customers do not have a legal right to place a bet and bookmakers are not obliged to accept all bets.

In some countries, measures have been put in place to protect successful punters. For example, in Australia, the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering introduced minimum bet limits to prevent bookmakers from refusing bets from winning punters on certain race types.

In 2020, Spanish authorities also ordered bookmakers to accept bets up to a certain limit, regardless of the customer’s betting history.

However, these measures are exceptions rather than the norm, and in most jurisdictions, bookmakers are within their legal rights to limit or close accounts.

It's worth noting that this doesn't always sit well with bettors, who argue that it is against the spirit of fair competition and contrary to the principle of accepting a bet as a risk. However, until regulations change, bookmakers are likely to continue this practice to protect their profit margins.

20 Tips to avoid being banned by bookmakers?

Spread Your Bets Across Multiple Bookmakers:

Don't put all your eggs—or in this case, bets—in one basket. Spreading your bets across multiple bookmakers will not only help you get the best odds but also lessen the likelihood of any single bookmaker flagging your account. It's kind of like dating - you don't want to come on too strong with one bookie and scare them off!

Use Rounded Stakes:

Betting with rounded stakes (e.g., £10, £20, £50) rather than unusual amounts (like £17.37) helps you blend in with the recreational punters. It's the betting equivalent of a camouflage outfit.

Avoid Constant Maximum Betting:

Consistently betting the maximum limit is like walking around with a neon sign above your head saying, "I'm a professional bettor!". Mix up your stakes and avoid hitting the max limit with every bet.

Don't Only Bet on Price Errors:

Taking advantage of a bookie's price errors is tempting, but doing it too often might put you in the bookie's naughty list. It's like always eating the last cookie - sure, it's sweet, but it won't win you any friends.

Regularly Bet on Popular Markets:

Betting on popular markets such as Premier League football helps blend your activity with the mass of recreational punters. Think of it like going to a popular concert, it's easier to get lost in the crowd.

Avoid Always Betting on High Odds:

Consistently backing long shots and winning can raise suspicion. It's like always betting on the underdog in a boxing match and knocking out the bookie's profits.

Don’t Only Bet When Promotions are Available:

If you're only showing up for the promotions, bookmakers might start feeling used. Treat them like a good friend; show up even when they're not offering free pizza.

Avoid Betting On Obscure Events:

Frequently betting on lesser-known sports or obscure markets can be a red flag. It's like being the only person at a party who knows all the rules to underwater basket weaving - it stands out.

Don't Consistently Beat the Starting Price:

If you're regularly getting in early and beating the starting price, bookies might start to view you as a shrewd investor rather than a casual bettor. It's like buying a Picasso painting at a car boot sale - it’s a fantastic deal, but it raises eyebrows!

Mix in Some Losing Bets:

No one likes to lose, but throwing in some unsuccessful bets can help you appear less like a professional. It's the betting equivalent of tossing a game of Monopoly to keep family peace - you could win, but it's not always the best strategy.

Limit the Use of Betting Bots:

Using bots can get you flagged fast. It's like sending a robot to do your grocery shopping - sure, it's efficient, but it’s going to attract some attention.

Don't Open Multiple Accounts with the Same Bookmaker:

This is a big no-no. It's like trying to sneak into the cinema for a second movie - once you're caught, there's no going back.

Respect Bookmakers' Terms and Conditions:

It's tempting to skip over the T&Cs, but respecting them can save your account. It's like going to a museum and touching the art - it might seem harmless, but rules are rules.

Avoid Consistent Late Betting:

Placing large bets just before an event starts can make bookies nervous. It's like arriving just before closing time at a restaurant - sure, you might get served, but it's not going to make you popular.

Don't Only Bet when Odds are in your Favour:

Betting only when the odds are favourable might seem like a good strategy, but it can make you look like a savvy bettor rather than a casual one. It's like only buying ice cream when it's on sale - eventually, the shopkeeper will catch on.

Be Careful with Arbitrage Betting:

Sure, it's nice to have a guaranteed profit, but bookies aren't fans of arbers. It's like finding a loophole in an all-you-can-eat buffet and eating all their shrimp - they're not going to be happy.

Limit Betting on Suspicious Events:

If an event seems suspicious or the odds too good to be true, it might be better to stay away. The bookies are watching and betting on such events could draw unwanted attention. It's like watching a magic trick – if you know how it's done, it's best to keep the secret to yourself.

Avoid Sharing Betting Information:

Sharing your picks or successful betting strategies online could alert bookmakers to your savvy. It's like shouting your poker hand to the entire table – sure, it's a brag-worthy royal flush, but it's likely to get you booted from the game.

Refrain from Market Manipulation Tactics: Tactics like late betting to manipulate market odds can get your account flagged. It's like switching price tags in a store – even if you can do it, it's not fair play and you'll likely be shown the door.

Don't Always Exploit Bonuses and Promotions:

We all love a good bonus, but exploiting them consistently can put you on the bookie's radar. It's like the person who only shows up at parties when they hear the words "free food" – it won't take long for the hosts to stop sending invites.

What Can You Do After Being Banned?

So, you've been banned by your favourite bookmaker? Although it may feel like a tough blow, it's far from the end of your betting journey. Here are several strategies you can consider:

Explore New Platforms:

Just as there are countless fish in the sea, there are many bookmakers in the betting world. While some of the lesser-known bookmakers might not offer the same visibility as the larger ones, they could provide a fresh perspective and different odds. Venturing out into new territory could open up opportunities you never considered before.

Betting Exchanges:

Betting exchanges, like Betfair, provide a unique betting environment where you're not up against the house, but against other bettors. This peer-to-peer platform lets you act as both punter and bookmaker, creating a versatile betting experience that keeps you in control. Read our guide to trading on Betfair here.

Appeal the Decision:

If you believe that your ban was unwarranted, it may be worth appealing the decision. This process may involve providing an explanation for your betting patterns or disputing misunderstandings. Like a well-crafted defense in a court of law, a good appeal might see your ban lifted.

Use a Relative's Account:

Though not a universally recommended strategy (and make sure it's legal and permitted in your jurisdiction), some bettors resort to using a close friend or family member's betting account. If you go down this path, it's crucial to ensure that the person whose name the account is in is fully aware and consents.

Try International Bookies:

Look beyond your local bookies and consider international platforms, such as Royal Panda, 10Bet, Karamba, Guts, or Novibet. Many international bookmakers accept bets from UK players, broadening your horizons to a global betting landscape.

Share Your Knowledge:

If you have a consistent track record of successful betting, consider monetizing your skills by creating content around betting strategies. You could start a blog, a YouTube channel, or even offer masterclasses on betting. This way, you transform from bettor to trusted advisor.

Develop Alternative Investment Strategies:

If you've been successful in betting, chances are, you have a keen eye for patterns and risk management. These skills are highly transferable to other forms of investments like stock trading or cryptocurrency. These avenues could open up a whole new world of opportunities for you. Remember, being banned by a bookmaker isn't the end of the world. In fact, it can serve as the beginning of a new chapter in your betting journey, leading you to explore different platforms, strategies, and even careers.

Alternatives To Normal Bookmakers

If traditional bookmakers are no longer an option for you, there are several other ways you can continue to enjoy the thrill of wagering:

Become A Sports Trader On Exchanges:

Platforms like Betfair, Betdaq, Smarkets or Matchbook allow you to bet against other users instead of the bookmaker, which can offer more flexibility and often better odds. You also have the option to act as the bookmaker yourself by laying bets. Similar to stock trading, sports trading involves buying and selling bets on a betting exchange. This can be done both pre-match and in-play. A good understanding of the sports and markets involved is crucial.

Spread Betting Companies:

Spread betting is a different form of gambling where you bet on whether the outcome will be above or below the spread offered by the bookmaker. Companies such as Sporting Index offer this service.

Asian Bookmakers:

Asian bookmakers like SBOBET and Pinnacle are known for their high limits and low margins, making them a good option for high-stake bettors. They are less likely to limit winning accounts and often offer better odds than European bookies.

Tote Betting:

Tote betting, or pari-mutuel betting, is where all stakes are placed together in a pool and the payout, or dividend, is calculated by sharing the pool among all winning bets. This type of betting is common in horse racing.

Here are some examples of tote betting platforms:

  • The Tote (UK): The Tote is the original horse racing pool betting service in the UK. They offer various types of pool bets such as the Totewin, Toteplace, Toteexacta, and the Totejackpot among others.
  • TAB (Australia): Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) is an institution in Australia offering tote betting on racing and other sports both in physical agencies, over the phone or online.
  • PMU (France): Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) is the leading French horse race betting organization. They offer tote betting online and at thousands of outlets throughout France.
  • Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC): The HKJC is a non-profit organization that provides horse racing, sporting, and betting entertainment in Hong Kong. It's one of the largest tote betting organizations in the world.
  • Japan Racing Association (JRA): The JRA provides legal wagering on horse races in Japan and also offers an online tote betting platform.

In conclusion, navigating the world of betting, be it traditional bookmaking, spread betting, tote betting, or peer-to-peer platforms, presents both challenges and opportunities.

Bettors are often left to grapple with restrictions from traditional bookmakers who limit or ban winners to protect their profits. However, the industry also offers alternatives that are more accommodating of consistent winners, such as betting exchanges, tote betting, and spread betting platforms.

Remember, it's essential to operate within licensed and regulated platforms to ensure your protection as a bettor.

In the UK, this means using platforms licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, even when exploring less mainstream or international bookmakers. Always ensure you fully understand the terms and conditions of any betting or trading platform you use.

Finally, the gambling world requires savvy and strategy. From understanding why bookmakers may ban winners and employing techniques to avoid such restrictions, to exploring alternative betting platforms when you're limited, informed decision-making is key.

While these tips and insights enhance your betting experience, always gamble responsibly and know that winning is never a guarantee. Happy betting!

Philip Borrowman


I am a full-time marketer and part-time Betfair trader. I have over 10 years of experience in the pre-race and in-play horse trading markets and spend my days writing guides, tips and tricks to help beginner Betfair traders find their way to a profitable second income. Read my story of trading on Betfair.

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