Money for Nothing: Dormant Account Fees

Now and then I log on to the Guardian website, purely for comedy value. I get my actual news from other sources but it’s interesting and always highly assuming to see what’s currently triggering the loony left.


I’m glad someone’s finally brave enough to stand up and confront the pertinent issues of our day: those fucking emojis!

Yes, you could go onto any website, go back far enough and find a headline that you consider ridiculous. You get this daily with the Guardian though. Pretty much every day there’s articles about how everything’s racist, everything’s the fault of men, especially white men and Tories are evil etc. Their publishing standard’s are so bad that a notorious Twitter troll/parody account has claimed to have had an article published there:


That article is still available now! I don’t know for certain that he did write it. Regardless, to me it is satire, yet it’s consistent with the rest of the Guardian output. Tells you everything you need to know really.

Anyway, enough about fake news…the purpose of this post is that there was an article I read on the Guardian that is real and isn’t satire:


To sum up: this chap won £8800 with Ladbrokes, they then restricted his account, and he stopped betting with them. Once he got restricted he really should have just withdrawn the money, but he left it in there. As per Ladbrokes terms and conditions:


So his account was “inactive” for 12 months. Ladbrokes deem inactivity as there being no bets placed. According to the article this chap logged in to his account but didn’t bother placing a bet as he was restricted, again, why didn’t he withdraw. Other bookies deem your account to be active if you just log in, you don’t have to place a bet. After a little bit of research; there’s no consistency in the industry as to how an account is classified as being inactive/dormant, when an account is inactive/dormant, or what fees are charged.

At Coral you don’t need to place a bet, you just have to log in. Dormant account fees are charged if your account hasn’t been accessed and/or not used for a continuous period of 400 days or more. Dormancy Fees are calculated as 5% of the total account balance or £5 (whichever is the greater) and is charged monthly.

At Bet365 you need to place a bet. If your account hasn’t placed a bet for 365 days then they’ll take 5% of your balance or £2, which ever is greater, monthly.

Paddy Power and Betway only take £5 a month, whilst Will Hill only take £3 a month.

The only consistency is that they’ll take these fees until your balance reaches zero or until you activate your account again.

Reading those Ladbrokes terms and conditions it seems he was able to get his money back as they didn’t send him an email informing him that his account had become dormant. They have probably been motivated by the negative publicity as well.

So, the majority of punters will lose money. The few that win get restricted or banned…and if anyone leaves money lying in their account they’ll take that too eventually. If you die and you’ve got funds in your account, well, unless your missus knows about it, it’ll stay with that bookie.

Apparently these inactive/dormant account fees are “designed to be a tool against money laundering”… Yeah, sure. I believe bookmakers care about money laundering as much as they do about “Responsible Gambling”.

Obviously when we set up an account with a bookmaker we all read through their terms and conditions so we know what we’re agreeing to… er…but once we click agree those are their rules which are apparently lawful and will be enforced. Bookies are well within their rights to restrict us or ban us if we win and it seems that they can take any dormant money too.

I’ve got a spreadsheet with every bookmaker account I’ve got, which shows how much money I’ve got in each, and when it was last active. Also on this list is the ones who have banned or restricted me, and once this happens I withdraw it all. The main reason I have for leaving money in accounts is to help preserve them a little longer. If you win, then withdraw your money, then you’ll get restricted quicker. Bookies don’t like to see money leaving. Plenty of punters will win sometimes, but keep their money in their account and eventually lose it all, and end up depositing some more.

I’ve spent a short period of time researching this topic (about 30 minutes) to see what the law actual is and what the Government thinks about this.

It seems a precedent has been set with the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act 2008, which allows the Government to direct money left untouched in bank and building society accounts for more than 15 years to “good causes”. Back in 2010 the Government commissioned an independent report to investigate whether unclaimed winnings or money in dormant accounts could be put to “good use”. This report recommended the consultation with bookmakers with the goal of them volunteering into a scheme where they would “accurately record all unclaimed amounts”. As the Government doesn’t know how much money we’re talking about here, and they would dearly like to know, for a “good cause” of course.  The report recommends that 75% of this money should go to the Government. It doesn’t specify where they got 75% from.

50%? Doesn’t sound enough. How about 90%? No too much… Ok, I’ve put my finger in the air and 75% seems about right.

Towards the end of that report it suggests some potential recipients of this cash grab: such as Problem-gambling care causes and Community sport facilities. But it does precede that with:

My strong view is that this report should not make a recommendation on the specific good causes or the best route for the dissemination of funds.

In summary this report doesn’t know how much money we’re talking about, but it’s decided that the great glorious state wants 75% of it. They haven’t decided what exactly they would do with it either and who would get it. I suppose they would like to just get their hands on it then decide the just and worthy cause later on because:

My view is that there is a strong case to be made that as long as every reasonable effort has been taken by the betting operator to contact the person and get them to activate their account or to collect their winnings, that good causes have a better call on those sums of money than the betting operator’s profit line.

There you have it: the essence of Government. They don’t have their own money but can extract money at will for what they deem a “good cause”. And there’s never enough “good causes”. Now I’m certainly not against a good cause, I just have zero confidence in the Government’s involvement. In the real world if a company fails to deliver, it goes out of business. You don’t have this creative destruction with the state. They provide a terrible service, at great expense, and their solution is to just throw more money at it. *cough NHS cough*

I’ve written about these topics before regarding the point of consumption tax in South Australia. There’s minimal assurance that money will be be spent effectively and there will be unintended consequences from Government interference.

Anyway that report was from 2010. There was a parliamentary debate about this in July this year. It seems that betting companies had zero interest in voluntarily signing up to a dormant betting account scheme. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. I certainly wouldn’t cooperate if I was them. But it seems the Government wants their slice of the pie:

In March this year, a new independent commission on dormant assets was established to support Government, to identify additional pools of unclaimed assets and to work with industry to encourage the voluntary contribution of those assets to good causes. The commission will report and make recommendations to Government on the feasibility of expanding the dormant assets scheme before the end of the year, and it is considering unclaimed gambling winnings as part of its asset scoping work.

I found this debate quite interesting TBH. It has all the usual tropes. First up whenever politicians talk about gambling the focus is problem gambling:

I am aware of one problem gambler who stole almost £850,000 to fund his addiction

Always use one extreme case to make a point, and also use some figures plucked out of thin air as well:

it has been suggested that there are still around 450,000 problem gamblers in the UK

Well the 450k figure at the start of the debate got upgraded to 600k by the end!:

The NHS website estimates that there are nearly 600,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. I was struck by GamCare’s estimate that for each problem gambler, there may be 10 to 15 other people whose lives are adversely affected by their activities.

Jesus Christ. 600,00 people who adversely affect up to 15 people each. If we assume there’s no overlap and each problem gambler affects 15 unique individuals then there’s 9 million people adversely affected by problem gambling! Obviously no Government would stand by such a ludicrous number😉 but even if each problem gambler affected only 3 unique individuals then there’s 1.8 million people adversely affected.

This is an epidemic.

Tracey Crouch (never heard of her either) knows one thing about gambling:

The one thing that I know about gambling is that it is pretty indiscriminate in terms of who becomes addicted, much like addictions to alcohol or drugs

This is game changer. If you’re reading this now, you may think it’s just a harmless pastime placing a £10 accumulator every Saturday. One day it may be you raiding the petty cash at work to get your next FOBT  fix. I’m serious.

One chap, Craig Mackinlay, actually had a half decent suggestion that bookies hold credit/debit card details. Why don’t they just return any funds to a card that is still live. Well he soon got shot down as cards get changed and expire and “debit and credit cards also fall into disuse” (I guess that’s something else we need to saved from). This is the first and last instance of getting that dormant money back to the person that it actually came from, besides the emails informing you that your account is dormant. Good stuff. Further more from the reply:

The way forward is to use the funds from accounts that have fallen dormant to do some good for those who have difficulties with gambling. To be quite honest, I cannot see what is controversial about that. Hon. Members might throw up all sorts of issues such as privacy and the intrusion of the state but, in the long term, we are talking about doing something for the greater good.

It’s for the “greater good” Craig, that trumps everything, so STFU about that money going back to the punter or to the punter’s family. You’ve got a lot to learn about being an MP.

If you read through that debate, these MPs present spoke a lot about how there’s a big problem with gambling and that the Government should be able to take money from dormant accounts for the greater good of helping this problem. But did anyone actually have any solutions to these problems? Of course not.

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