Imagine one day you wake up to find that your betting account has been limited or suspended entirely. Limits on accounts basically mean there are caps on how much you can bet. If it is entirely closed, then you should receive a payout of whatever you had in your account, and then your account is deactivated. This is not the same as voluntary or self-exclusion, as that is voluntary and lasts only for as long as you confirm. Self-exclusion is a responsible gambling tool with which you can better control your gambling.
Limitations and account closure is imposed by the sportsbook, and not for your safety either. It is because you are causing the sportsbook to lose money. Whether it is because you are winning too much or because they suspect some foul play, it is still completely within a bookmaker's right to close or limit any account. Before you start getting worried, this rarely happens to gamblers, especially if you only bet casually. Here, we will look at why the bookmakers close or limit accounts, and what you can do to stay safe.
Reasons to Close or Limit Betting Accounts
There is no arbitrary selection process, nor do bookmakers enjoy limiting or cutting off players. More customers bring more money, and the bookies want to establish firm and stable reputations. However, sometimes the sportsbooks are pushed to the point where they have to ban players to protect the book’s interests.
Whenever you register at an online betting site, you need to verify your account with proof of address and identity. This is to ensure that no underage players join the sportsbook and that you really live where you say you are playing from. Underage gambling is against the law, and understandably so. However, why would players lie about where they are based?
Some sportsbooks are only available to players in certain countries. Alternatively, they may have promotions and bonuses, but only for players from a certain jurisdiction. You cannot use a VPN to hide your location and try to join the sportsbook. If they catch on and find out you are playing from a restricted country, your account will be closed.
There may be no laws against arbitrage betting, but sportsbooks can still limit your account or close it entirely if they suspect you are “arbing”. This is basically a strategy in which punters take advantage of discrepancies in the odds between numerous sportsbooks. It is not expressly forbidden, but bookmakers do not like it as it gives you the edge over them. You can look at it this way: casinos can ask players using the Martingale strategy at a Roulette table to leave. Similarly, they can kick out players if they count cards at Blackjack. Neither are strictly illegal though.
If you do not know what arbitrage betting is, you can find out all you need to know in our analysis of arbitrage betting.
“Professional” Gambling Tricks
Generally speaking, sportsbooks do not want professional gamblers to take advantage of their bets. Whilst the sportsbook always has the edge, because they set the odds, some punters look for loopholes to exploit. They may be using odds checkers and implied probability tools to look for bargain prices and catch the sportsbooks out. Odds are a curious subject, as it is also a guessing game for bookmakers. They want to give odds out early, to make the most of the time they are on sale, but this can backfire. Sometimes, there are events outside the sport that can drastically change what will happen in the game. Anything can happen to change the odds and professional gamblers bank on it. It may also be a case of picking out lesser-known sports or betting markets that are more difficult for the trader to give prices on.
Abusing Bonuses and Promotions
Promotions are offered to reel in punters, but bookmakers do not want you to abuse them. Say that the bookmaker offers you a weekly free game, such as “predict the correct score for these four soccer games”, and you can win prizes of up to $10,000. If a punter never places a bet but every week goes for the free game and then one day they win, the sportsbook is at a loss of $10,000. The bettor wants to cash out, but the book will argue that they abused the promotion, and therefore wants to ban the player. Perhaps the bookmaker is at fault because they should have made special conditions, or not offer cash but “bonus money” – which has wagering requirements. In either case, the bookmaker will maintain that they reserve the right to revoke the offer.
Bookmakers do not give out cash bonuses lightly, especially if it is not subject to wagering requirements. However, they generally do not want punters to sit and wait around to only use bonuses and free bets.
Bookmakers will close any account they suspect is being used by an already registered member. Account duplication is seen as fraud and expressly forbidden in the terms and conditions of licensed sportsbooks. If you were to set up an account for a family member or friend, only to use it yourself, it would be considered as account fraud. This is because the bookmaker does not want you to use promotions or bonuses twice.
You are not allowed to use offensive behaviour or abuse anyone at a sportsbook. If you become frustrated then you should never lash out or provoke the sportsbook as they can immediately ban you.
You Win Too Much
This seems incredible but unfortunately, some sportsbooks can limit you if you make too much money off them. Whether you are using expert knowledge or are just always getting lucky, winning too much can damage a sportsbook’s revenue. Smaller or more obscure sportsbooks may limit your account if you are making too much of a profit. At bigger establishments, however, this is less likely to be a problem.
If you win a massive sum of money from a tiny stake, they may want to advertise it. This may come in the form of posting your win on their website, or they may go further and invite you to a photoshoot where they will take a picture of you with a large cheque and advertise it all over social media. Essentially, they will turn you into the poster boy/girl of their marketing campaign.
How to Avoid Limits or Bans
Most casual bettors have nothing to worry about, as they probably follow most of the following tips anyway. It is still important to stay informed as to what you can do to not attract suspicion from your bookmaker.
Make Sure You Are Eligible to Join
Never try to deceive a sportsbook with your age, identity or address. This is first and foremost, as it is illegal to join a sportsbook you are not eligible to join. Make sure you meet all the requirements needed to use its services before you sign up. If the sportsbook is restricted in your country, then move on and find another bookmaker. If you are not of legal age, then you should not be betting in any case. Ignoring these criteria is against the law, so do not expect any authorities or laws to protect you if you lose any money. The sportsbook is in the right and you are in the wrong.
Avoid Betting Using Random Stakes
You are not expected to wager the same stake every time you want to place a bet. However, if you continually use different stakes and they are not round numbers, your activity will look suspicious. Arbitrage betting requires bettors to use specific stakes that have been calculated from inversing the odds. If you bet values such as $11.14, $10.46, or $9.93 instead of just rounding to $10, then bookmakers may assume you are arbing. It also looks fishy if you flippantly change between smaller and larger stakes. There is no rule against it, but if you switch between a few dollars to thousands of dollars, you may attract unwanted attention from the bookmaker.
Use Bonuses in Moderation
There is no reason why you cannot take advantage of bonuses, so go ahead. Just make sure that you also use the regular betting markets and are seen to “shop” at the sportsbook too. The sportsbook will have no argument against regular customers, even if they win big using the promotions, as money is both going in and going out of the book.
Extend Your Winning Run Elsewhere
If you are having an excellent run of form and seem to be making all the right picks, you may worry that the bookmaker will eventually shut you down. Instead of deliberately losing or putting your winning run on hold, you can always try out another sportsbook. Simply find one you like and see if your winning formula holds. If that winning run starts to wane, you can come back to your original book. Remember, they do not want to lose your business, but they have to be wary of bettors who lose them money.
Respond and Use Customer Support
Though the relationship between punter and bookmaker is strictly business, it does no harm if you enquire about promotions and wagering requirements with customer support. Likewise, if customer support sends you an email and wants to know something, then you should always respond. They will inform you about how bonuses work and other betting rules that you may need to know. They cannot tell you if you are being monitored for suspicious activity. The bookmakers want to have loyal customers who play regularly. By responding and not ignoring any messages, you are giving yourself a better character reference, which will work in your favour.
How to Reverse a Limit or Ban
Bans are considerably more difficult to reverse than limits. A sportsbook will only deactivate your account if you have done something fundamentally wrong. Hopefully, it was a misunderstanding that can be reversed. Limits can be imposed but a sportsbook can lift them if you have cause for reasonable doubt. Alternatively, you can bet within the limit and then appeal at a later date after “doing your time”, and hopefully they will revoke the limit.
Immediately Reach Out to Customer Support
You need to ask what you have done wrong. This must be clarified before the situation escalates, as there is a chance that the sportsbook will immediately reverse their decision. Again, if you have been banned, then you can expect something far more serious.
Request Proof of the Offense
If the sportsbook does not lift the limitation or ban, then you can request written proof of the offence. Some sites may refuse to give you one, but most should give you a detailed summary of the offences you have made. This will help you better understand what went wrong.
Appeal to the Gambling Authorities
If you have the list of offences and are not convinced that you are in the wrong, then you can appeal directly to the gambling authorities. These are the very authorities that licensed the sportsbook you were betting at, and they have the right to overturn any limitation or ban. It is very much a worst-case scenario, as afterwards your relationship with the sportsbook will sour considerably. Only reach out to the authorities if it is a serious case of losing money or refusing to pay out your winnings. If they only limit you, then it is best to keep the matter between yourself and the operator. They may reverse the decision if you prove that you are not abusing the system.
Hopefully, you will never encounter either of these problems. They are rare, but you should know about them if you use a betting site. Serious offences, such as underage gambling, lying about your address or duplicating accounts, are considered criminal and there is no way of reversing account deactivation.
If your account was empty and you were only picking out the promotions, you do not have much of a case, but you can still use your account. The big worrier is when you are on a winning roll. You do not want it to stop, but the sportsbook may throw some obstacles in your way. There is no rule against sportsbooks limiting your account, as they set their own terms and conditions.
Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.