Betsafe tops tables for terms and conditions

1 February 2018

Betsafe has the clearest terms and conditions for sports bettors, according to a detailed analysis of 25 bookmakers prepared exclusively for iGB by bettingexpert.com

The affiliate tipster site's deep dive into bookmaker T&Cs, the first in a monthly series which will compare bookmaker performance in 12 key areas during the course of 2018, looked at three factors to determine which were easiest to read.

These were the length of the document, the complexity of the language — both in terms of average number of characters per word and the number of spelling mistakes — and the personability of the text.

Overall, bettingexpert.com's analysis, which used data collected in September 2017, saw Betsafe lift the first Bookmaker of the Month garland, followed by Stan James and then Ladbrokes. 

Although various past studies have shown most people don’t actually read terms and conditions when signing up, the current investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into unfair terms among gambling operators and a growing consumer backlash against free bet offers that require players to recycle bets many times are likely to mean T&Cs attract more attention from new punters in future.

Bettingexpert.com highlighted the length of T&Cs as its “overwhelming concern” when it came to the readability of the documents. “Across the 25 bookmakers in our study, the average terms and conditions length was 16,194 words.

"To put that in context, the average bookmaker terms and conditions would take an average roughly 81 minutes to read. Considering the less than compelling nature of bookmaker terms, it’s likely any reader would have fallen asleep before then.”

There was a lot of variance within the bookmakers studied, with Matchbook having the shortest T&Cs at 6,580 words and Sportingbet the longest at 36,057. “If you’re planning to read through Sportingbet’s terms and conditions, you might want to grab a cup of tea, curl up on the couch and cancel the rest of your day,” advised bettingexpert.com.

The cost of complexity
In terms of the language used, bookies are also pushing the boundaries when it comes to complexity, with an average word length of 5.81 characters, which is significantly higher than the average length of a word in the English language of 5.1 characters.

Again, there was wide variance among the operators — Coral’s T&Cs were the most convoluted, with an average character count of 6.24, while Marathonbet kept things simplest at 5.50 characters.

Bettingexpert.com also pointed out that some bookies could use a little more attention to detail: “There were a few bookmaker terms that could use a spell check.” Sky Bet was the worst offender here, with eight spelling errors.

On the third metric, personability, bettingexpert counted the number of times a bookmaker referred to either the “customer”, “you” or “your”. Although Betfair mentioned the customer the most times, it was 888sport that came out on top once mentions had been measured by averages to account for the different word lengths of operators’ T&Cs.

Bookies are not shy of using their own name repeatedly throughout their agreements, although this occurs only about half as often as they mention the customer. Stan James mentioned its brand the most, at once every 41.1 words.

Responsible gaming message lost
One area of concern highlighted by the affiliate site was the scarcity of responsible gaming language in the documents. “We found very few mentions across the 25 bookmakers in our study, with a number of bookmakers failing to refer to responsible gambling at all.

“While this does not imply these bookmakers do not provide measures and information to assist their customers with managing their gambling, we find it peculiar that a binding agreement between bookmaker and customer would not establish an agreement on responsible gambling measures to be provided to the customer,” it said.

Bettingexpert said Marathonbet was the only bookmaker to mention “responsible gambling”, “responsible wagering” or “responsible betting” in double digits, with a total of 11 mentions.

Although bettingexpert.com acknowledged that “the majority of punters do not have the time or patience to wade through the seemingly endless litany of bookmaker terms”, given the intense scrutiny faced by UK operators in particular from both regulators and the media, there may well be changes ahead for bookies' T&Cs, both in terms of how many people are reading them and the level of transparency required from them.

The full version of the analysis can be read here at bettingexpert.com

About bettingexpert.com
Providing expert tips and in depth betting theory, bettingexpert.com is the world’s biggest social network of sports betting tipster. Its global community of experts compete for prizes by sharing their strongest tips on upcoming matches across 25 different sports to help millions of sports bettors place knowledge supported bets, with the best odds available from a variety of bookmakers. Betting Expert is owned by Better Collective, the leading developer of educational platforms within the iGaming industry.