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Can Bookies Refuse To Pay Out?

Can Bookies Refuse To Pay Out?

When placing bets at bookmakers, so many outcomes can occur besides just your bet, either winning or losing. Sometimes, there may be miscommunications, a misunderstanding of the rules or any type of event that may prevent or delay payouts from being made by the bookies.

This Wizard Slots post explores these unforeseen circumstances and looks at whether or not bookies can refuse to pay out, why that may happen and what to do if it happens to you. So, read on.

Can Bookies Refuse To Pay Out?

Yes, a bookmaker can refuse to pay out a punter. However, the decision to come to this conclusion is not taken lightly and is followed by a series of thoroughly investigated events.

Remember that the bookmakers want players to win for the potential of repeat customers. So, if they refuse, there is a significant and crucial reason why, especially in the case of a licensed bookmaker.

As a punter, this refusal may seem unfair and appear as if the bookies can arbitrarily refuse to pay out your wins. After all, you have entered into a contract and feel you held your end of the deal, and the bookies are refusing to honour their part. 

But that is not the case. Below, we discuss why the bookies may refuse to pay a winning bet.

Why Do Bookies Not Pay Out?

There are several reasons why bookies may refuse to pay out, all of which need to be valid and irrefutable. If the reasons seem unreasonable and it is a licensed bookie, you have channels that you can reach to help you get your payouts.

Below are some of the reasons bookies may refuse to payout:

  • You are suspected of foul play - If the events in which you won the bet are questionable, the bookies may withhold your payout while they conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether there was foul play or to ensure that there was not. 
  • Palpable error - A palpable error is also what they call an “obvious mistake”, such as the odds being accidentally advertised in reverse. For example, if you are betting on a match where one team is predicted to lose at 1 over 5 odds, but the bookie lists it as 5/1. That is an obvious mistake, and the bookies are allowed to refuse to pay out any winning bets resulting from it. They can, however, refund you your stake amount.
  • Breach of the terms and conditions - As mentioned, a bet is a type of contract between a punter and a bookie and like all contracts, there are terms and conditions to adhere to. These include being 18 years and over, having only one account with the bookies, not placing the bet for someone else, whether or not you used a free bet and met the wagering terms and conditions, etc. This list is by no means exhaustive, as each bookie will have their own rules, terms and conditions.
  • Suspected illegal gambling activities - If the bookmaker suspects you of doing something fraudulent to win the bet or trying to gain an unfair advantage over other punters and the bookies, rendering your bet null and void, you are, therefore, not entitled to a payout.

If you are playing at a licensed and registered bookie, the reason or reasons your bet payout is denied can be made available to you upon request.

What To Do If a Bookmaker Won’t Pay Out

There are several steps you can take to mitigate the issue if a bookmaker refuses to pay out your winning bet. You can begin by contacting their customer service to ask why they are refusing to pay your bet because they are legally and contractually obligated to pay out winning bets.

But, if the winning bets are in breach of the contract, they are allowed to refuse, so find out why and try to solve it. For example, your account is unverified. You can then offer the documentation needed to verify your account.

If that fails, you can contact the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), an independent third-party dispute resolution service for gambling in the UK. They can act on your behalf to resolve your unpaid bet. But you will need to provide them with evidence that you have met all the conditions, broken no rules or laws and are entitled to the bet.

If the IBAS also fails to resolve the case to your satisfaction, you can take the bookmakers to court. 

One known successful punter who took a bookmaker to court and won was Mr Andrew Green. He had won a jackpot of £1,722,500.24, but the casino refused to pay, claiming it was a system glitch. After a year and half-long court battle, Mr Green went home with a £2.3 million settlement.


It is rare for licensed bookmakers to refuse to pay out a winning bet unless they have a valid reason. But, even then, you have avenues you can explore to get your dispute with the bookies resolved, starting with contacting the bookmaker.

Legitimate bookmakers will have an easily accessible customer service you can contact, and they will try their best to get you sorted. If all fails, parties like the IBAS can help, or you can even go the legal route.

That is why it is so crucial that you always play at licensed and registered places so you can be protected should things go poorly. 

*All values (Bet Levels, Maximum Wins, etc.) mentioned in relation to this game are subject to change at any time.