Geoff Banks’ Column: Gambling — The Business of Restrictions

Welcome to the third edition of renowned bookmaker Geoff Banks’ column here at All opinions are Mr Banks’ alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of or its parent company.

I gained the love of Racing from my Father. John Banks was a flamboyant gambler. Most certainly fearless, outspoken, and it is fair to say he was popular with the punters; many of whom often flocked to his pitches — even if they were back line!

I attended many race meetings, including greyhounds, at both Reading and Hove as I grew up. And I stood on the pitch taking bets for my father, well before it became an issue to be underaged taking bets. In those years, I never once heard my Father reject or restrict a bet in any way. The money was swept into the bag. And he never entertained a hedge, either. In those heady days, the ring used to hedge into itself. It was a strong body.

That all changed with the introduction of betting exchanges. The ring lost its integrity and is now a pale imitation of yesteryear. Betting exchanges have also had a notable effect on the online market. The truth is the liquidity of companies like Bet365 could swallow up the betting exchange liquidity many times over. However, to ‘buck’ exchange odds is commercial suicide.

As exchanges grew in popularity, they also became a simple medium for people to ‘trade bets’; a complex process that provides the opportunity to guarantee a profit, regardless of the outcome of the event, through backing at a bookmaker and laying at an exchange. This is a huge change from the days of John Banks, for example, as it has resulted in the abolishment, at least on one party, of risk. In both examples the ‘punter’ profits regardless.

I hear constantly of people engaged in this practice, many of whom even go as far as to inaccurately describe themselves as “punters”. In the absence of risk, however, that punter has simply gravitated to a trader of money. The only risk is to the bookie. For this reason, I argue those engaged in this practice, who inevitably find themselves restricted when a bookmaker detects their betting habits, to be realistic. They need to accept what they’re doing on a regular daily basis is precisely the same as the betting firm is doing: trying to manage money, not punting as has always been the intention.

You may be wondering: “if a firm is prepared to offer 8/1 a horse, what’s the issue in laying the trader?” I mean surely the trader is just filling in the enquiry? The truth here is that bookmaker can guarantee to ‘lay’ that selection at a much cheaper price than that being proffered by the money trader. And that same vessel will only wager with the bookmaker when their odds are out of line with exchange odds.

So when a bookmaker restrictions a bettor engaged in trading or other non-punting activities, I’d advise those punters to smile, take their winnings, and move on to the next company! There’s no offence in this refusal!

Geoff Banks

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