We hear it again, that dire word regulation. Aren’t we trying to renegotiate the terms of our EU membership to reduce it? Is it not just more paperwork and bureaucracy slowing down economic growth; wasting resources, and stifling entrepreneurship?
On the other hand, do you want a dentist with dirty drills? Do you want food-poisoning when you visit your local restaurant? And what about the economy? If financial services in the economy were not regulated then it would collapse. Bookmakers are regulated. Share tipsters are regulated. Sports Tipsters are not regulated (The Gambling Commission’s position is that if a business is not handling bets then no licence is required.)
Sports Tipsters sell advice that enables punters to make better-informed gambling decisions. The punter who subscribes to such a service is buying inside information which he would not otherwise have, or is paying someone else to do the research for him that he does not have the time to do himself.
If the researched information or detailed analyses do not exist then this is theft. Not only is the tipping fee being stolen from him, but his stake is as well if it ends up just being placed on a random horse (one assumes that if a sports punter is paying for a tip then he is likely to have a wager on the recommendation.)
Share tipsters (even those operating on the internet) are required to register as financial advisors on the basis of ‘consumer protection’. Financial regulators have imposed fines of up to £50k on registered share tipsters who advertise misleading information on their historical tipping performance. There is no reason sporting backers should not be similarly protected on the same basis.
An estimated £1m-£4m is lost to sporting tipster fraud in the UK every year. The purchasers could have bought them by persuasion from false advertising (exaggerated past results;) from pressure selling on the telephone; through junk mail, or more likely from redirected advertising from search engines bots if they had done sports betting related searches.
They could have even fallen to the classic scam whereby the tipster offers a free trial service, gives 64 different people a win double tip on two 8 horse races, and ends up with one person ready to pay handsomely for the next tip because he has already had a nice payback.
Sports tipping scams are used as an introduction to other fraud. In Australia, it led on to sales of phony analysis software and invitations to join ‘betting syndicates’. Losses were Au$4m and many people lost their life savings.
The advantages of regulating sports tipsters would be:
- The general betting public and potentially vulnerable members of society would be protected from tipping ‘scams’
- Tip purchasers could have confidence in ‘past results’ reported
- Purchasers would be offered better cybernet protection of their personal and bank details
- The UK sports tipping industry would have an enhanced reputation, and could grow in line with the explosion in on-line betting worldwide. This would create jobs, and increase tax receipts and exports
- Some of the extra revenues generated would flow back into the sport through sponsorship and advertising
The scheme would be self-financing through a registration levy and annual fee, so the only people to lose out would be:
- Bookmakers (more winning bets)
- Scammers and fraudsters
Reputable existing operators in the market place, such as Betting Gods Ltd, support and encourage the adoption of such regulation. Nobody wants more regulations, but there are areas where regulation is necessary for the protection of society. One such area is in the sporting tipping industry, and the need for regulation is greater now than it ever was before with the growth of the internet. Websites come and go overnight; there are a myriad of on-line payment options, and likely targets are easily identified through adbots (“interested in gambling” or “seeking a second income.”) The situation is so bad on twitter that there are special feeds on ‘tipster blacklists’.
Registration under a regulatory scheme needs to involve looking behind the tipping organisations at the reputation of the people who set them up. It needs checking that they have a proper corporate identity and are registered for relevant taxes. An on-line register needs to be kept and easily accessed by the public.
Action needs to be taken against unlicensed operators, and spot checks undertaken on the reported ‘past performances’ of registered firms. Transgressors must face financial penalties and potential exclusion. Finally like the share tipping regulations, newspapers should be exempted from the scheme.
In the meantime, punters should do their research before buying sporting tips. Shamsters shy away from publicity whereas genuine information providers such as Betting Gods actively seek it by advertising at and sponsoring sporting events, being featured in the industry and national press, plus seeking out opportunities for review and now even appearing on TrustPilot.