You might think that your erstwhile bookmaker is an open house when it comes to getting your bets on, but that isn’t actually always the case.
The absolute vast majority of firms have introduced betting limits, which helps to protect the welfare of their punters, and also payout limits – which protect their profit and loss accounts – that are outlined in their terms and conditions, which you essentially agree to when signing up for an account.
Some bookies even introduce account limits, putting a cap on how much ‘winning’ punters can place per bet.
It’s certainly worth knowing more about these limits, as somewhere down the line they may just impact upon your action.
What are Betting Limits?
A betting limit is, by and large, the maximum amount you are allowed to wager in a single bet.
Not to be confused with an account limit (more on those shortly), a betting limit is a blanket figure imposed by the bookmaker on all of their customers.
The limit tends to vary from sport to sport and market to market, with a higher threshold for wagers placed on the English Premier League than, say, Turkmenistan Division Two.
One of the main reasons for betting limits is that the bookmaker finds it difficult to lay off certain positions, and so they don’t want to accept the liability of big bets placed on niche sports or largely unused markets.
Sometimes, betting limits will also be imposed on markets where individuals may have insider knowledge – think certain TV shows, the WWE and even some *Next Manager betting options.
*Next manager of a football team, not your local Next clothing outlet…
What are Payout Limits?
Even when they impose betting limits, bookmakers know that they can face huge liabilities on certain steamers and popular bets – hence why most have a specified payout limit too.
Again, as with betting limits, the payout threshold tends to be higher for popular, mainstream sports and events than it is for more niche concerns. The reason is that the bookies’ trading team are better placed to model the Premier League or the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as opposed to low-key greyhound racing and the like where the threat of being ‘beaten’ by the betting public is higher.
A payout limit is a catch-all figure that applies to all of a firm’s customers, although they also have the power to lower the payout threshold for certain punters if your betting activity leaves them with an unwanted liability.
Why You Need to Be Aware of Betting and Payout Limits
It’s important to note how betting and payout limits are connected.
You may think that placing a relatively small stakes accumulator is safe as it doesn’t breach the betting limit, however if your winnings exceed the stated payout limit then the amount you trouser will be capped at that figure.
As an example, let’s say you place a £100 accumulator on top-level football at odds of 1,000/1. It lands – happy days – and you think you are in line for a £100,000 payday. But you only get paid out £50,000….why? Because that is the payout limit imposed by the bookmaker.
So, even bets that fall below the specified wagering limit can ultimately be capped during the payout process, and while for the most part the bookie in question will alert you to the limits in place, that doesn’t mean they will stop you placing the bet entirely.
Likewise, you may wish to place a high-stakes bet at relatively low odds, meaning that you wouldn’t breach the payout ceiling. But again, if the amount bet exceeds your betting limit, you simply won’t be able to get your selection accepted.
What are Typical Payout Limits?
The limits imposed by bookmakers differ from one bookmaker to the next.
Generally speaking, the bigger the book the higher the payout limit, although this isn’t the case 100% of the time.
The major bookmakers will let you win as much as £1 – £2 million on major football and horse racing markets, while the limit may drop to £500,000 when betting on golf and tennis (non majors) and the American competitions like the NFL and NBA. The limit will fall further for things like snooker, darts, boxing and the like – £250,000 is a generally accepted figure.
As for small bookmaking firms and some based offshore, beware that the payout limit can be much lower. We have seen examples of some bookies imposing payout limits of as (relatively) low as £25,000, so if you intend on trying to win big sums it is essential that you take the time to read each betting firm’s limits before signing up for an account.
Can Bookies Ban You for Winning?
Remember earlier we mentioned account limits?
If you have a clear and defined edge on a certain sport or market, are betting on something that is considered ‘niche’ and routinely win your bets, you may be flagged up by the bookie’s in-house systems.
When this is the case, your account can be ‘gubbed’ – the bookmaker will usually contact you to inform you that your stake size is being restricted, or it may happen automatically when you enter your bet on their website/app.
And it’s not just those that plunder the bookmakers for lots of cash that get restricted – even simply ‘beating’ their odds consistently, i.e. placing bets at prices better than the closing line on a regular basis, may be flagged.
The bookie can either limit your stake size to very small amounts, or ban you completely.
Is It Legal for Bookmakers to Limit You?
The answer is that while it seems unfair for bookmakers to limit their customers, they are legally allowed to do so.
The key is in their wording: you can bet your bottom dollar that the bookies you use have terms and conditions on their website that read something like ‘…Bookmaker X reserves the right to close or suspend your account at any time and for any reason.’
It’s a bit like a shop reserving the right to refuse service, except the bookie is doing it because you are not a profitable customer.
It is ethical? No. Is it legal? Yes, as evidenced by the T&Cs.