There are certain things that most of us take completely for granted. Every time you climb the stairs, you’re doing something naturally, that comes easily to you, that someone that is in a wheelchair for some reason or another simply can’t do in such an easy manner.
Someone with balance problems that get worse when they engage in cardiovascular exercise can’t go for a run, say, or play tennis. Even something like taking a dog for a walk becomes something of a challenge. There are a whole host of similar things that you’ll do without even thinking about it.
One such thing is placing a bet when blind or visually impaired. You might head into a bookmakers or login to your online account and place a bet without ever even considering how difficult such a relatively simple task might be for someone that struggles to see the betting slip, their phone or a laptop.
For sensible bettors, time is often spent researching the wagers that they’re going to place. Those with visual impairments won’t be able to research in the same way, needing to put much more time and effort into what they’re investigating and their bets might suffer as a result.
In The Betting Shop
The first place to think about is in the betting shop. As you might imagine, there aren’t many betting shops up and down the country that have betting slips with braille on them. Even if there were, people who are completely blind wouldn’t necessarily be able to fill them in. In the vast majority of betting shops, the people that work there are friendly, approachable and kind. Asking them to fill in the betting slip for you is something that most of them will be more than willing to do, so if you have a good relationship with them then that is where to start.
Of course, this doesn’t always work out. Zulfiqar Shah enlisted the help of Christopher Gordon Green when he got lucky with his bet. Green didn’t work in the shop, instead being a friend of someone that Shah usually got to help him place his bets. He won £380 on the horses, but Green only returned £160 of it, running from the shop with the other £220. On sentencing, the judge was critical of the fact that Green was only there in order to help Shah but instead chose to rob him. As a result, he was given an 18 week prison sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay £300 compensation.
That case is obviously one of the rare ones, but it adequately demonstrates the problem that blind or visually impaired people face every time that they want to place a bet. If there isn’t someone that can help them, they are trapped hoping that the person in the shop that is willing to be of assistance is honest. It is far from an ideal situation, but one that is virtually inescapable for those that have no other choice. In this instance, Mr Shah was totally blind and therefore entirely at the mercy of someone that was looking to take advantage of him.
Sadly, things aren’t much better for people when it comes to the world of online casinos. In the early 2000s, there was a casino available online for blind people called AllInPlay. Unfortunately, it did not accept real money wagers and was created by two bettors who enjoyed casino games but were upset that their blind friend couldn’t join in. Whilst visually impaired people are able to play at online casinos and sportsbooks, it is usually thanks to special software install on their own computers, such as a screen reader.
For those that are visually impaired rather than totally blind, there is the option to zoom in on websites or specific areas of a site in order to place a bet. Unfortunately, not all betting sites are well programmed, meaning that doing such an action can distort things in such a manner that it becomes virtually impossible to use them properly. There are some sites that have been designed with blind players in mind, but they tend to be friendly sites that don’t allow real money wagers. This means that you can’t win any money playing on them, though you can’t lose any money either.
Unfortunately, visually accessible sites are few and far between, even in the modern era. Yes, players can play using their own accessibility software, but is it right or fair that they can’t play at mainstream casinos? It is something that isn’t thought about enough and doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. Those that have disabilities are often left behind in certain circumstances, with those that are visually impaired being ignored by the world of gambling being just another example of such a thing happening.
Friends Can Help, But Should They?
It is, of course, entirely possible for someone with a visual impairment to get a friend to help them place a bet. The problem is, doing so might actually break the terms and conditions of your agreement with the betting company that you use.
It is technically illegal to have someone else place a bet for you, given that the terms and conditions of your agreement are specifically between you and your sportsbook or online casino. In other words, if they find out that someone else is placing your bets, they can close your account.
If you completely trust the person that is placing the bets for you then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ask them to help. If it did end up with your account being banned, this is something that you might be able to appeal to your betting company of choice about.
It is possible that they will give you special dispensation, but if the United Kingdom Gambling Commission isn’t willing to be dismissive of the issue then there’s little that an individual sportsbook can do. Your best bet, pun intended, is to contact your sportsbook or casino ahead of time and let them know your situation.