An article appearing on the BBC’s website
relating to social media tipsters has recently been brought to our attention and it makes for some very interesting reading. A more in-depth radio programme
has also been recorded and that too is well worth hearing.
The article focuses on the somewhat controversial concept of bookmaker affiliation and, unsurprisingly, it centres on the potential exploitative nature of the schemes. Long-term followers of @cheekybetting
will be familiar with bookmaker affiliate schemes because articles have been posted previously to draw our followers’ attention both to the arrangement itself and to the potential for it to be abused.
For those unaware, the affiliate scheme operates as follows:
When a punter opens up an account with a bookmaker via an affiliate’s link, the affiliate (the tipster) may receive some commission for introducing a customer to their service in the same way that some businesses (such as Sky TV) will give monetary vouchers to any customers that refer a friend to their services. These commission payments, however, will only be given to a tipster if there is an aggregate loss of at least £200 at the end of each month among all punters that signed up via the affiliate’s link. In these cases, the tipster is liable to receive between 20% and 30% of the bookmaker’s profits.
The truth is; it may be open to abuse. How can a tipster be on the side of the punter if they only make money from the bookmakers' profits? Well, it wouldn't be much of a sustainable business plan to deliberately tip losers. Besides, no tipster can be sure that their referrals are still using their tips and therefore the notion is somewhat short-sighted.
To apply some context, Betfred, Bet Victor and bet365 are the three bookmakers that feature most often on our website (Betfred because of their fixed-odds coupons and the other two because of their tendency to offer the best prices on our other bets). Referral figures confirm that, since October 2012, just under 200 accounts have been opened through Betfred, Bet Victor and bet365 via our links. Assuming half of those accounts are either no longer being used or are held by individuals who no longer follow our tips, the actual number of live referrals equates to less than 1% of our follower base. Admittedly, our referral figures are comparatively low because we don’t relentlessly post affiliate links all over Twitter as is the case with many others but the same logic applies to them. The radio programme 'Tipsters on Trial' indicated that some tipsters may even deliberately tip losers in order to secure profits through the affiliate schemes. However, it would make very little sense to employ these tactics at the risk of alienating 99% of the follower base. Eventually, the numbers would drop significantly and this would have a far greater adverse effect on the affiliate's long-term revenue. Naturally, no tipster will win every bet and there will be losses along the way but the belief that even the most dishonest tipsters on social media would deliberately tip losers is, quite frankly, ludicrous.
We produce detailed profit/loss records
that are open to scrutiny at any time by any visitors to our site. The records can be cross referenced with the previews and tips, all of which remain on the website and on Twitter for this purpose. It would be very easy to delete old tips (particularly the losing ones) and therefore ours are displayed sequentially from cheekybettingtips.co.uk/previews/id/1
(October 2012) to cheekybettingtips.co.uk/previews/id/1837
(June 2016). The profit/loss record demonstrates a 30% return on investment since October 2012 and, whilst our long-term followers will remember several bad runs during that time, they will also acknowledge that they have made a steady profit from our tips in spite of this.
On the basis of our profit/loss records, the bookmakers have theoretically made an aggregate loss from the individuals that have opened accounts through our links and followed all of our tips. Does this mean that we’ve never made a penny from the scheme? No, of course not. Punters will rarely follow every tip and, those that do, will no doubt still have bets of their own (with or without the aid of another tipster). Others have opened accounts through our links and moved on to do their own thing shortly afterwards. Add that to the month-to-month fluctuations between profit and loss and, over a period of time, the end result is likely to be a profit for both the bookmaker and its affiliate. Is this corrupt or immoral in some way? No, not if it’s done in the right way. Gambling is, for most people, a form of entertainment. Entertainment costs money and bookmakers make money by providing that entertainment. When a punter places £10 a week on a 9-fold accumulator, he or she probably won’t expect to land the £2k potential return but the prospect alone is enough to provide the excitement he or she seeks. For the price of a cinema ticket, the punter may well feel that they’ve had value for money even if they lose.
There appears to have been a disproportionate reaction by those who have recently become aware of affiliate commission payments but it seems foolish to think that any punter would prefer their entire losing stake to go to the bookmaker. If they have opened a betting account using a tipster’s affiliate link, it is reasonable to assume that they have obtained some benefit from using the tipster’s service. If their bets lose, the punter gets nothing. Why would the punter care if their losses are paid entirely to the bookmaker or in part to the tipster? Presumably most people would prefer the latter in any case - particularly if they have received the tips for free.
There are three members of our team (including one web expert) and we are all employed in full-time jobs. None of us has any expectation, any inclination or even any desire to make a career out of being a tipster. Our jobs enable us to live perfectly comfortable lives and we only use disposable income for gambling. We enjoy the research, the anticipation, the victory and the rewards.
We don’t need additional income from affiliate schemes and we’ll be maintaining this website irrespective of any earnings in this regard. However, any payments received enable us to develop the website and to offer cash prizes to our followers throughout the year. The website has had two major upgrades recently and we have given away in excess of £1,000 to our followers. Any money left over (and, rest assured, it's not a lot), keeps our wives sweet when we opt to write previews and articles over a shopping trip on a Saturday afternoon.
The BBC obtained some valuable contributions from @CasualGamblerEV
(among others) and the guys behind casualgambler.net
should be applauded for their work. Not only does their website provide some useful insight that will rarely be volunteered by tipsters themselves but it also seems to be operating without any apparent pecuniary reward.
It’s refreshing to hear a radio programme that draws attention to the potential pitfalls associated with bookmaker affiliation. However, it perhaps lacks objectivity and one example of this is in the discussions about the rolling accumulator (or the ‘£25 to £1,000 challenge’ as it’s referred to). It suggests that “tipsters sometimes encourage punters to reinvest higher and higher stakes so they can take a cut of bigger losses along the way”. The misconception that a tipster would reap greater rewards under these circumstances is flawed because each punter’s overall loss would be the starting stake (£25 in this case) irrespective of the point at which the challenge fails. Rolling accumulators often encourage irresponsible gambling (particularly when the stakes reach high levels) and this is of some concern but the BBC programme (and, more accurately, Charlie – a social media tipster who has no affiliation with @CasualGamblerEV
) appears to have missed the point in this instance. In our view, rolling accumulators are open to greater criticism in other ways and it is for this reason that we have very different tactics whereby profits are banked along the way in order to avoid losing the entire stake – see more on rolling accumulators here
In fairness to the BBC, it’s hardly surprising that the programme portrays a subjective and generalised view because experience tells us that the honest and trustworthy tipsters are very much in the minority on social media. However, some of the accusatory language serves only to absolve punters of any blame when they lose money following a tipster on Twitter or Facebook. The broadcast warns the listeners that the tipster makes a profit “even if it was their bad advice that lost you the money”. Firstly, even if a bet loses, it does not necessarily mean that it was down to a piece of “bad advice” - not every losing bet is a bad bet. If, for example, you are offered odds of 2/1 on tails in a coin-toss, you’ve found a good bet, even if it loses. The same can be said for backing a football team in great form that happens to get a man sent off in the first half. Sh*t happens. Secondly, and this point is crucial, a tipster’s “bad advice” cannot make a punter lose his or her money. Only the punter can lose his or her money by electing to follow that advice. The punter makes a conscious decision to back it based on their own knowledge of the selection or their own faith in the tipster’s research or reputation. Any punter blindly following a tipster’s every bet will, at some point, need to take responsibility for any losses incurred. Even the best gamblers will have a bad run on occasions and punters should be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. If anyone could guarantee a profit, it would be inaccurate to call it gambling.
In any case, the suggestion that a tipster can lose money on behalf of a punter is a damning reflection of our society as a whole. When people get fat, we blame consumer advertising; when people get too drunk, we blame irresponsible landlords; when an apple pie is too hot, we sue McDonald’s for damages. Here’s an idea – eat less, drink in moderation and blow your f*cking food before swallowing it! On the same basis, if you don’t know much about the Iranian Women’s Third Division, feel free to ignore the tipster claiming a home win at odds of 2/9 is a “banker”. Punters should use tipsters for corroboration – not direction. The tips on this website are offered to you as a guide and you should decide for yourselves whether or not you agree. If you don’t agree, for the love of God, don’t back it and then blame us if it loses!
We are lucky at @cheekybetting
because our followers very rarely criticise when things go wrong (and, yes, it’s inevitable that things will go wrong on occasions). The reason we’re not criticised is not simply thanks to a 30% return on investment; it’s also because of the natural growth of our follower base resulting from genuine word-of-mouth endorsements rather than a contrived influx triggered by relentless requests for retweets and shout-outs. Accordingly, our followers are all given a true indication of our successes and failures, thereby ensuring that they don’t have unrealistic expectations. We don’t claim to win every bet and we don’t make promises that can’t be kept. In turn, our followers appreciate the successes and accept the inevitable losses in the process. We’re football tipsters – not financial advisers.
One crucial point that the BBC programme touches on is irresponsible gamblers and this is a subject that has been a priority since our website was created (read more here
). The programme suggests that, by following a high number of tipsters on social media, punters can often be encouraged to bet more than they can afford to lose. Our advice would be to either split your desired stake accordingly or to simply unfollow the poor performers to remove the temptation (if that includes @cheekybetting
, so be it – we won’t take it personally).
Some of the views above may seem rather defensive of tipsters as a group and that is not the intention. The lack of honesty, integrity and even morality in a number of social media tipsters has resulted in many negative connotations being associated with the term ‘tipster’. The derogatory associations are perhaps deserved in many cases because far too many tipsters have only their own interests at heart.
The only criticism of the ‘Tipsters on Trial’ piece is that it conveys a one-sided version of the truth (albeit, in the most part, quite accurately). Aside from that, both the article and the radio programme should be regarded as a positive step towards raising awareness and promoting responsible advertising of gambling products.
We would welcome greater regulation of tipsters with open arms but this seems to be a very distant reality. Advertising standards are designed to protect consumers and, in the case of gambling, the bookmakers are responsible for ensuring compliance in this regard (whether they promote their products directly or via an affiliate). It seems clear that effective enforcement of the existing regulatory provisions would be more viable than legislative change.
In any case, the debate is open and that can only be a good thing. Our website was developed to bring you a source of advice, guidance and tips – not to milk the punters until they moo. That’s why you won’t see us flooding your Twitter timelines every hour with links to bookmakers, their special offers and their sign-up bonuses. Use the links on our website if you want to. Ignore them if you don’t. That’s your call.