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Betting Disputes 1

One thing punters must always remember is that the vast majority of sports were not invented with betting in mind. Indeed, kick out horse and greyhound racing and all the computer-generated virtual nonsense that bookmakers serve up nowadays, and there is not a single sport that was designed purely for punters.

Big deal, you might say. Actually it is when it comes to betting disputes because while there are rules that cover pretty much every eventuality with horses and dogs, that is not necessarily so when it comes to other sports, which can lead to controversy and betting disputes.

Indeed, even when there are rules that should cover a certain situation, there can still be an almighty furore, with punters quickly claiming they are being short-changed by bookmakers who make decisions that suit them best.


Goalscorer betting is a constant source of controversy and you could pick from dozens of examples down the years, but there was a landmark case in 2000 which finally forced bookmakers into action.

In January 2000 the scoring in Everton's 2-2 Goodison Park draw with Leicester, shown live on Sky, was opened on 15 minutes when Toffees defender David Weir's 20-yard shot took a violent deflection off striker Don Hutchison to leave City keeper Pegguy Arphexad stranded.

Weir was a 40-1 shot to score first and Hutchison 8-1, and most firms ruled in favour of Weir, whose initial attempt on goal it was.

Super Soccer were the only firm to pay out exclusively on Hutchison as their rules at the time stated that goalscorer bets are settled on the player the TV company broadcasting the match decides has scored. However, Tote-sport, adopting exactly the same ruling, initially paid out on Weir, before eventually settling up on both. Crazy, eh?

Thankfully, the uproar that followed finally gave bookies the kick up the backside they needed.

At a meeting initiated by the Independent Betting Arbitration Service (IBAS), all major firms agreed to abide by the judgement of Britain's main news agency, the Press Association (PA), for disputed goals.

At the time IBAS's Chris O'Keeffe said: "A single criterion adopted throughout the betting industry would not actually remove the element of controversy inherent to situations where more than one player can claim a goal.

"It would, however, put an end to the immense sense of grievance felt by punters who wonder why they should be settled as a loser when other punters, with the same selection, are settled as winners with bookmakers using different settlement criteria."

It was a good decision by the industry, but it would be a lie to suggest that it marked the end of goalscorer disputes. And the water becomes further muddied when football's ruling bodies get involved. Take the Euro 2004 tournament and the match between England and Switzerland.

Bookmakers are never slow these days to come forward with special markets and some firms were offering prices on Wayne Rooney to score two or more goals in the match.

Having already bagged the first, Rooney launched a thunderous drive on 75 minutes which hit the post, struck the back of Switzerland keeper Jorg Stiel's head on the rebound and went into the net.

The PA ruled, correctly, that it was an own goal, but Uefa, quickly realising that Rooney had become one of the stars of the tournament, awarded it to the Englishman.

Their ruling had no effect on bookmakers' match settlement as the disputed strike was neither the first nor the last goal of the match, but the long-term story was different. All firms were betting on the winner of the Golden Boot for the tournament's top scorer and they had to give the contentious goal to Rooney in that market as Uefa were handing out the award.

Had Rooney gone on to score two more, he would have had six and beaten the gambled-on Milan Baros, who finished with five. Theoretically there could have been punters who backed Rooney to score twice against Switzerland and lost because his second was an own goal, but also backed Baros for the Golden Boot and lost due to the fact that Rooney's second in the Switzerland game stood with Uefa. Thankfully it didn't happen.

But football is a long way from being the only sport to give bookmakers and punters nightmares.

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