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Elliott hits out as Akins quit IBAS; Call to name and shame bookmakers.

LEVY BOARD member Keith Elliott has hit out at the decision of a leading independent bookmaker to resign from IBAS, the Independent Betting Arbitration Service, writes Richard Griffiths.

Geo Akins, which has 63 shops mainly in the Nottingham area, quit IBAS in protest at a ruling it made against the firm concerning a case bought by a punter over a bet on the Irish National Lottery.

IBAS ruled that Akins should pay customer Betty Ward pounds 2,000 of the pounds 4,096 she felt she was due for picking four successful numbers. The dispute centred on whether she had filled in the number 37 or 38 on her slip. IBAS ruled the slip could be read as either number, and so suggested she was paid half the winnings.

Elliott, a Government-appointed member of the Levy Board with a keen interest in punters' rights, was dismayed by the decision of Geo Akins to withdraw from IBAS.

He pointed to a section in the registration form for IBAS, which says: "I understand the terms of the Independent Betting Arbitration Service and declare my intention to abide by IBAS once their investigation into a dispute has been completed."

Elliott said: "I'm not concerned at the specifics of the details of this case, that is not the point.

"We seem to have three categories of bookmakers: those in IBAS, those who won't join and now those who have joined and decided to leave. Punters should ask themselves which of those three groups they should bet with."

Elliott called for a "name and shame" approach to bookmakers who don't sign up to IBAS, or join but then leave in protest at a decision.

Although critical of some aspects of IBAS since its launch last year-"it was invisible for the first six months"-Elliott added: "While it is not perfect, IBAS is the best thing we have ever had for punters. What we need now is for bookmakers to keep their word.

"I would like to see a list published of the names of those bookmakers who don't join IBAS. Punters can then make an informed choice."

While Geo Akins directors were unavailable for comment yesterday, it is known that they donated a sum of pounds 2,000 to the Injured Jockeys' Fund.

IBAS described the firm's resignation as "disappointing". Service manager Chris O'Keeffe said: "Registration with IBAS enables a bookmaker to demonstrate commitment to the principles of providing access to independent, impartial arbitration for customers.

"We believe it is in every firm's interest to participate and, once they have registered, companies are seen to honour their signed agreement to abide by our decisions."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Griffiths, Richard
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 11, 1999
Words:440
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