Skip to main content

Can Bookies Refuse to Pay Out?

Bookies are important in the gambling space. But they can refuse to pay out a winning bet when the situation calls for it. Different scenarios would warrant bookmakers to refuse to pay bettors their winnings. For example, if someone has been suspected of theft.

Read this guide to learn different situations that would make bookies withhold your winnings.

Top 3 Reasons Bookies Can Refuse to Payout

Many reasons would make bookies withhold a bettor’s winnings. However, we decided to focus on the top 3 that frequently occur at sports betting websites.

Palpable Error

A palpable error is a term used in the bookmaking industry to refer to it as an ‘obvious mistake.’ You’ll find that some sports gambling sites will refer to this as an ‘obvious error’ after the IBAS ruled in 2008 that the term should be reworded.

The best way to explain the palpable error is through an example. For instance, there was a misrepresentation of the odds. A bookie may list Serena Williams at odds of 10/1 while the rank outsider is put down as 1/15. As you can see, this is an error by the bookmaker.

In this case, the bookie has the right to void the wagers as per gambling laws. If they realize after the bets have been settled, sometimes, the bookie may decide to pay out according to the correct odds.

Bookies and Payouts

Breaching Terms and Conditions

When you think about it, there are a lot of ways that you could breach the terms and conditions of a bookmaker. These breaches could legitimately permit the bookie to refuse to pay out your winnings. However, don’t think of terms and conditions as sports gambling sites use to catch you out. Instead, terms and conditions serve as frameworks that you and the gambling site must work within.

So, it’s important to read the terms and conditions to see how you are protected and avoid breaching the site’s terms and conditions. Here are a few essential terms that could allow a bookie to refuse to pay out:

  • One account – if you’re using a free bet of promotion, take note that the majority of bookies allow one account per person, household, or shared computer.
  • Abusing Free Bets – this occurs when you use multiple systems to bet on various outcomes using free bets. If it’s investigated, it could lead to no payouts.
  • Official result – most wagers are settled immediately when the results are announced. So, if your team happens to win over a technicality, later on, the bookmaker is not obliged to pay out.

No Stating What You Have Backed

The best example of a bookie refusing to pay a bet would be when you’ve lost a bet. In some cases, you might think your wager has won when it hasn’t. For example, Sam Oldham’s grandmother bet that her grandson would win a medal in the Olympics.

However, her bet was not valid because her grandson won a medal in a team event, so the bookie argued that the bet was for an individual medal.


Many reasons would make a bookie refuse to pay out. So, you need to make sure that you read the terms and conditions before you place your wagers.

Related Posts