One of the hot potatoes of sports betting comes when the microscope is turned onto dormant accounts and unclaimed winnings.
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that the vast majority of punters would assume that their account is theirs forever, and that they can use it (or not) as often or as little as they please.
But, sadly, in some cases this isn’t true, and as soon as your account is classified as ‘dormant’ you may be liable to losing any funds that are in there – and perhaps even paying fees for the privilege too.
As a result, if you currently have a betting account that you haven’t logged into for a while, it might be worth reading on to get a feel for where you stand.
When Is a Betting Account Classed as Dormant?
The classic definition of a dormant account is one where you haven’t logged in for a specified period, with 12 months the typical timeframe given. It certainly won’t be any shorter than this, as the UK Gambling Commission has detailed quite specific rules on that front.
Whether you’ve chosen to stop betting, moved on to a new bookmaker or have lived overseas for a period of time, you may yourself have – or be heading towards – a dormant account situation.
And while the bookmaker will keep the account open if there are funds in it, they may well enact their terms and conditions which state that they can begin to charge fees after the given timeframe is up.
Will I Be Charged Fees for a Dormant Betting Account?
As part of their licence obligations, a betting site has certain rules by which it must abide in terms of transparency and communication. And that includes how they deal with dormant accounts.
That includes the publication of any fees it will charge you, which will be detailed in their terms and conditions. It should be known that betting firms can charge fees for inactivity.
As we know, 12 months will need to have passed since your last login before your account is categorised as dormant, but at that point if the firm charges inactivity fees then these could start to kick in.
As described on the UK Gambling Commission site, these fees must be ‘reasonable’ and reflect the ‘costs that the business pays to maintain your account.’
There are a couple of other caveats too. The company must inform you of the incoming charge 30 days prior to the fee being collected, and if you have funds in an account that is set to become dormant the firm must make every available step to re-pay you first.
Where these steps have been taken, the dormant fees can be taken from your account balance, so where you might have had a bankroll to bet with that will eventually disappear due to the fees charged.
Are Bookmakers Allowed to Charge Dormant Account Fees?
The reality is that while it may seem unfair to be charged dormant fees, while your account is classed as ‘open’ the bookmaker in question will incur charges of their own.
There are administrative costs of keeping your account open because a betting firm has to keep their customers’ money separate from their own accounting. The truth is that many ‘active’ betting account users essentially pay for their own fees because they are losing money on their bets.
Interestingly, not all bookmakers will simply add dormant account fees and unpaid winnings to their own profit margin. In some cases they will hand these over to the Gambling Commission, or perhaps even donate them to a charity of their choosing.
What Should I Do If My Betting Account is Dormant?
The rules on how you can ‘reactivate’ a dormant account tend to differ from one bookmaker to the next.
In some cases, you can simply login to your account – that will restart the counter for your next 12-month period.
Elsewhere, you may need to place a bet or even make a deposit for your account to be taken from its dormant status. The full details of what is required should be outlined in the firm’s T&Cs.
Note too that you may have to verify your account once again, as betting sites have their KYC obligations to meet. This will simply involve proving your identity with proof of ID and/or home address.
Can a Bookmaker Close a Dormant Account?
If your account sits dormant and there are no funds in it, or the money has since been used to pay the fees chargeable, the bookmaker can close your account.
That could take place any time after the one-year period is up, although for the most part a timeframe of two years is typically specified as to when a dormant account can be closed for good.