What is a Dormant Betting Account?

Inactive Red StampMany of you will no doubt have a multitude of different online accounts at various retail websites from Amazon to Next. Some of the accounts you might not have accessed for years but typically, there are no consequences of them being inactive for a long period. The next time you log in, everything will almost certainly be just as you left it.

Betting accounts are one of the exceptions to this. Following an extended period of inactivity, accounts are considered to be ‘dormant’ and this has some significant implications for customers as we will explore in this article.

When Do Betting Accounts Become Dormant?

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Partly, this is down to the individual bookmaker. UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) rules mean bookies must wait a minimum of 12 months before making an inactive account dormant but after this period it is really up to them. They may choose to follow exactly the same approach with all accounts but it is possible that one account is made dormant after 12 months and another after 18 months, for example. A bookmaker’s policy can usually be found buried somewhere in their terms and conditions.

By ‘inactive’ we mean that a player has not logged into their account once during this period. Say, for example, you last logged in to a particular betting account in February 2021, your account could be made dormant starting from February 2022 onwards. It is also possible for an account to gain dormant status if you have logged in (either once or numerous times) but you have not placed a bet of any kind, nor made a deposit or a withdrawal. From the point of view of the bookie, this is being just as inactive as someone who hasn’t logged in at all.

For customers outside of the UK, note that different rules may apply depending on the regulator of gambling in the jurisdiction in question.

Why Do Inactive Accounts Exist?

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There are many reasons bettors may leave betting accounts to gather virtual dust. In most cases they have simply decided to bet elsewhere, after all, there is hardly a shortage of bookmakers to choose from. With many of them regularly advertising enticing welcome bonuses to new customers, there is always a great temptation to shift your business elsewhere. Another popular reason includes people simply wanting to take a break from gambling altogether but did not feel the need to permanently close their account(s).

It is also possible that players move country and the bookmaker is not licenced to operate in the place they now live. Really, there could be any number of reasons why an account ends up inactive and so many of them do. This is less than ideal for bookmakers who do bear some administrative costs to keeping your details on file. Given that they require verification documents, for example, there is more upkeep involved than with many other online sites.

Having ‘dormant’ accounts helps mitigate this as bookies are allowed to charge a running maintenance fee for them, providing there is money in the account.

Dormant Account Fee Charges

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One point to stress here is that players without money in an online betting account cannot be charged a dormant account fee. You will not go downstairs in the morning and find a large bill from a bookmaker you once played with years ago. What bookies can do, however, is chip away at any money you left in your online betting account. This only covers a minority of accounts, but you would be surprised by how many people do not collect all their winnings.

The UKGC is mindful to ensure that these dormant account fees are not exploitative. They state that “fees must be reasonable and clearly set out in the company’s terms and conditions. Any charges must reflect the costs that the business pays to maintain your account. A typical charge is £5 a month.

In this case, the £5 charge would be applied every month until the balance went down to £0. If you only had £3 left remaining in the account, then only £3 would be taken. You would not end up owing them £2 the next time you logged in as negative balances will never be applied. Although we have used £5 a month as an example, a bookie may decide to charge more, less, or – in some rarer cases – nothing at all.

For those that do charge a fee, you can see the incentive for the bookies to keep it quiet whenever your account is approaching the dormant time limit. This could land them in hot water with the UKGC though as bookmakers, operating in the UK, are obligated to contact customers at least 30 days before any maintenance fee will apply. Not only this but they must make an attempt to pay each player the money that sits in their account. They will normally do this by sending the funds to the bank account from which the most recent deposit was made.

Reclaiming A Dormant Betting Account

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It is important to acknowledge the distinction between a ‘closed’ account and a ‘dormant’ account. In the case of the former, there is usually no way of retrieving your details and you will have to create a new account (if permitted by the bookmaker). A dormant account, however, is rather one that is taking a snooze, so all the details are there, you just need to wake it up. Do not try to instead open a brand new account as this will breach the bookie’s rules about having multiple accounts.

In some cases, you will be able to reactivate your dormant account simply by logging in as normal. It is more likely though that you will need to confirm some details before you can regain access. This could involve providing personal details and/or the answer to your security question(s) over live chat. Alternatively, you may need to provide proof of your identity/address in order to comply with the bookmaker’s ‘Know Your Customer’ policy.

Although something of a minor inconvenience, once complete you will have full access to your account and all money left inside (minus any dormant fees that have been applied). Should you wish to take your money out, note that bookmakers normally only allow you to withdraw funds to the account from which you last made a deposit. If this payment method has since expired, for instance if you’ve since closed your bank account, talk to customer services to find out how to proceed. It may be that you need to place a new deposit before you can release all the funds.

What If My Bookmaker Shuts Down While My Account Is Dormant?

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There are two possibilities with this. If your bookmaker has stopped operating because they have been bought out and they have subsequently merged with a different brand, you may be okay. During such mergers, the bookie being purchased will pass over details of all active accounts and most likely the inactive ones too. Because they take on all the existing liabilities, we would expect that any money left in a dormant account would be claimable although there is no guarantee of this.

If your bookmaker has simply gone out of business though, you almost certainly have no way of reclaiming any money you may have left in an old account. Even active players often struggle as customers are low down the list of recipients for any money that can be clawed back from the failed business.

What Happens To Dormant Account Fees?

Pound Sign Icon Button with Red ArrowShould you leave money lying around in an unused betting account for over 12 months, you may well find that you are simply donating it to the bookies. Although there has been talk of bookies being obligated to donate a sizeable share of any unclaimed winnings/deposits to charity, so far there is no law in place. Some generous bookies may well choose to do this voluntarily but they are under no legal obligation to do so.

Most will end up transferring the money over from their customer funds account to their business account, and thus increasing their profit that little bit more. Bookies certainly do not need a helping hand when it comes to taking money from punters so we would encourage you all to be mindful when it comes to dormant accounts. If you do not think you will play at a particular bookie again, make sure you leave the balance empty before departing by withdrawing all funds to your bank account.

Additionally, it does not hurt to log in to an account you have not used in a long time, on the off chance there is some money there. You may think you are too careful for it to happen to you but, trust us, it is worth making sure. We would say this is especially true if you are someone that places long-term or ante-post bets as these are much easier to forget about.