A bookmaker failing to donate to a charity? What a shocking development! Now, despite the obvious sarcasm here, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing a blog on such a nothing news story. It should not come as any great surprise that bookmakers are not traditionally known for their charitable nature. But, believe it or not, the expectations you have of bookmakers is about to drop to a new all-time low.
You might not have heard of this bookmaker as they are relatively new to the market, but Bet4Causes is a bookmaker who appeared to be taking gambling in a new and refreshing direction. The clue is somewhat in the name – they had linked themselves with several notable sports charities and claimed that 20% of their profits would go to those charities.
Now this threatened to be mildly revolutionary. Bringing a degree of morality to an industry that is better known for its shadiness and profiting from addiction. For those interested, the three main charities were World Horse Welfare, the Greatwood home for retired racehorses and Street Games, which brings sport to disadvantaged communities. The cyclical effect of this was rather nice, punters placing money on sports would, as a by-product, be aiding charities that helped their sports thrive in the future.
When we first saw this at Heads&Heads, we were impressed and for once stepped back from our usual cynicism of bookmakers to applaud this innovation in the gambling industry. In fact, we were impressed to such an extent that we refused to post Bet4Causes welcome offer on our site. It seemed poor form to send our members to a bookmaker that they were unlikely to use long term. Generally speaking though, we really hoped they’d grow as a company and stick to their promise.
You’ve probably already correctly guessed the conclusion to which we are about to reach. Recently, the Guardian newspaper revealed that none of the three charities previously mentioned had received any money. In the words of Helen Yeadon, a co-founder of Greatwood: “We’ve been chasing up about it this week because we haven’t received a penny,”.
If you think this is as bad as it gets, you’d be wrong. Bet4Causes is essentially an affiliate of Myclubbetting, the CEO (Stephen Wundke) of which promptly came out on the offensive. Stating that Bet4Causes had good intentions but was let down by the charities it represented because they failed to promote the site and get their supporters to sign up. He then went on to say that software had shown the Bet4Causes page only having two views so far, this year. Which does leave us wondering what exactly Stephen’s marketing strategy was. One hopes it was more than simply passing the buck to the charities you were supposedly helping.
Wundke then appears to round off his argument by blaming the scourges of society – matched bettors. Stating those that signed up for Bet4Causes had proved ‘sharper than average punters’ and included a large number of ‘bonus abusers’ (an affectionate new term for us). Setting aside the fact that Wundke has essentially just insulted the very customer base he is trying to win over by saying they are not as sharp as us, this has deflection written all over it. We matched bettors are an easy ‘get out of jail free’ card for bookmakers when something goes wrong. What makes this worse is that Heads&Heads at least, did not send any of our members there because, a bookmaker not motivated entirely by greed is something even we want to see.
It gets worse the more you dig in to this story and frankly we’ve lost all sympathy. When pressed that the business must have a decent turnover in April, Wundke defended keeping any results from growth for themselves arguing: ‘it had been generated by the efforts of his company rather than the charities themselves. He therefore did not agree that a payment to the charities was required at this stage’.
Bet4Causes webpage, carrying the strapline ‘Giving back to sport’, was taken down last week. You can draw your own conclusions. As ever, it just reinforces the view that bookmakers can never be fully trusted.