Imagine the scenario: you’ve placed a bet on the last race at a meeting and your wager has come in. You celebrate with your friends, finish your drink and then head over to the bookmaker that you placed your bet with in order to claim your winnings. The only problem is that they aren’t there any more.
Incensed, you convince yourself that they have packed up early in order to avoid paying out on winners placed on the final race of the day, so you head back to your group whilst spitting out curses and annoyed that you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your winnings.
In reality, the bookie in question will have begun the process of closing up as the final race of the day got underway, waited around and packed up most of their belongings in the wake of the race and then headed off whilst you were still enjoying a drink at the bar. The amount of money that bookmakers need to pay for a licence nowadays means that it is extremely unlikely that any of them would actively seek to avoid paying out on a bet, given the extent to which they would be in trouble with the licensing authority if they did.
Final Races Are Usually Minor Affairs
Anyone that has spent time watching something like the coverage of the Cheltenham Festival on the television might well have noticed that the broadcast tends to end before the final race of the day gets underway. The main races are all covered in detail, but every day the final race is broadcast on a different channel, with the free-to-view broadcast not covering it.
That is because the last race of the day at any race meeting is usually a not particularly important event, usually seeing the likes of bumpers take place in that slot.
The result of this is that the bookmakers tend to receive fewer bets on the last race of the day than most of the other events that have been taking place during the meeting. They aren’t as busy during the race, giving them a chance to begin the process of packing up their wares before they head home. Whilst you and your friends might be planning on sticking around and enjoying a few more drinks, it is a job for bookies and, much like everyone else, the sooner they can get away from work and back home the better.
Were They Quick To Leave, Or You Slow To Get To Them?
If you have found yourself in a situation where you couldn’t cash in your betting slip on the last race and therefore didn’t get the associated money, the key question you need to ask yourself is whether the bookmaker was quick to leave or your were slow to get to them.
The honest answer most of the time is that it will have been you being slow that was the problem, rather than the bookie scarpering as quickly as they could. The truth is that race days will often involve a lot of drink for most who attend, which means time can get away from us.
It isn’t out of the realms of the possible that you have enjoyed a drink or two with your friends at the bar, watched the race and celebrated your win; perhaps even offering to get the round in with the winnings that you’re now due to collect. This time is the period when most bookies are waiting around to pay out any winners of the people that have had bets on throughout the day. The time that you then spend walking over to the pitch is therefore when they are on the move, taking their equipment to their car or van before getting on the road.
It Isn’t In Their Interests To Screw Over Punters
Getting a pitch at any racecourse in this country is neither easy to do nor particularly cheap. Similarly, there are hoops that bookmakers need to jump through in order to gain a licence to operate from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission so that they can take your bets.
The process isn’t a cheap one, with the UKGC also setting out numerous conditions that bookies need to meet in order to keep and maintain their licence. With that in mind, it simply isn’t in their interest to try to get one over on a punter for a small amount of money.
That isn’t to say that it has never happened, of course. In days gone by, there were doubtless numerous disreputable bookmakers that would try to get away without paying out winnings. Nowadays, however, that simply doesn’t happen because the bookies in question risk losing their pitch, their licence or both, should they be found to be acting in a disreputable manner towards bettors. The likelihood is that you haven’t won an amount of money that would put a bookie out of business, so why risk their business to avoid paying out to you?
What You Can Do If Your Bookie Has Left
The other reason there isn’t much point in a bookmaker choosing to head away from the course before you’ve collected your money is that they’ll still have to pay you out anyway. Whilst the best way of getting your winnings is to ensure that you make it to your bookie of choice before they shut up shop, the reality is that you still have options to get your winnings even if they’re already at home with their feet up by the time you’ve left the bar and gone to find their pitch. The best way to do so it to get in touch with the Administration of Gambling on Tracks.
That organisation works with bookmakers to give punters the chance to claim their winnings after the day of the race. You need to write to them with your original betting slip, which they will use to get in touch with the bookie in question. Provided said bookmaker has evidence in their own records that the bet was won and not paid out on, you’ll be paid out your winnings. The official line from the AGT is that you have a month in which you can make your claim away from the racecourse. All things considered, that’s not bad if you missed out just because you were having another drink.
If you have bet with a bookie that also operates an online site you can also often claim winnings via that channel if applicable.