Most of the time, results are set in stone. A football match finishes and you know whether it has ended in a win for the home team, a victory for the away side or a draw that leaves neither party all that happy.
The consequence of this is that your bet will be paid out in a manner that you will have expected, with nothing changing from that point on. Sometimes, though, there is a cause for results to be changed for one reason or another. A horse has been disqualified after the fact, for example, or a boxer has tested positive for an illegal substance.
The good news, presuming that you’ve won your bet, is that the payout can’t be taken back unless there has been an obvious error made. The bad news if you lost your bet is that you are unlikely to be able to persuade a company to payout on a wager that later proved to be a winner.
When Juventus were stripped of their Serie A 2004-2005 title in 2006, for example, Italian punters were unable to claim winnings on their bets on Internazionale, who were eventually awarded the title. The question is, what does happen?
When You’ve Already Been Paid
Most of the time, the likelihood is that you’ll already have been paid out on a bet when the official result is changed. If you were paid out in error and the error is an obvious one, there is a chance that the bookmaker in question could reclaim the money from you.
Imagine a scenario in which you’ve placed a bet on Everton to beat Liverpool, Liverpool have won 5-0 but your wager was paid as a winner. In this sort of instance, you’ll have no choice but to pay the money back to the bookie as the error is what is known as ‘palpable’.
What we’re talking about is what happens after the official result has been changed, given that bookmakers always pay out on the official result of any given event. This can work in your favour in instances where the bet that you’ve placed later goes on to be a loser, because you’ll already have been paid out and it is extremely rare for bookies to ask for the payout to be returned to them.
Bets settled in accordance with the official result remain settled, even if the official result later changes for some reason or another.
When Your Losing Bet Becomes A Winning One
There are occasions in which the alteration of the official result means that a bet that you’d placed has become a winning one. A good example of this is when you’ve placed a bet on the outcome of a Formula One race and the winner is later disqualified for some reason. If you’ve already been paid out on your winning bet then you can consider that money to be yours. If you’d bet on the driver that finished fourth getting a podium and he ends up finishing third as a result of the winner being disqualified, however, things are more complex.
There are, in essence, two different aspects of official results: the official result as far as the bookmakers are concerned and the official result as far as the sport is concerned. Bookies pay out or don’t pay out according to the official result as it is initially reported. If this later changes, that makes no difference to bookmakers and the punters that either have or haven’t received a payout. For the sports themselves, meanwhile, later changes to the official result are all-important and will be used for the official standings.
Using our F1 example, let us imagine that you placed a bet on Speedy Driver, who is in a Mercedes-Benz, to finish on the podium. Ignoring the nominative determinism for a moment, we find out that Speedy Driver finished fourth, meaning that you’ve lost your bet. In the days that follow, Cheaty McDriver is disqualified from the race, meaning that Speedy Driver is officially promoted to third. This results in Speedy Driver getting more points in the Drivers Championship and Mercedes-Benz gaining points in the Constructors Championship, but your bet is still a loser.
How It Works In Horse Racing
Horse racing is a sport that uses First Past The Post rules. This means that bets are paid out according to the order the horses cross the finish line, not the official result given when horses and jockeys have been weighed-in. This is the official result on the track and could be different from the result as announced on television, radio or on the track tannoy. That announcement tends to be made in the immediate aftermath of the race, informing everyone which horse and jockey combination appears to have won the race. The weigh-in, meanwhile, is different in some ways.
Prior to the weigh-in taking place, complaints can be made and enquiries can be carried out. Equally, issues with the weigh-in can be flagged and dealt with. As a result, the result after the weigh-in is official and will be recorded as such in all places of record. Bookies that follow FPTP rules, meanwhile, will look to see which horse crossed the line first in the race and payout winning bets. Consequently, a winning bet that later becomes a losing one, perhaps due to interference, will still be paid as a winning one by most bookies.
In an unusual demonstration of generosity from bookmakers, many will also payout on the official winner, even if this differs from the First Past The Post winner. Most bookies include Each-Way betting in this, too. In other words, imagine that you’ve placed a bet on Horse McHorse to Win and an Each-Way bet on McHorse Horse. Horse McHorse wins, but McHorse Horse comes fourth, outside of the Each-Way places for your bookmaker. You will get paid for your Horse McHorse bet according to the FPTP rules.
Before the weigh-in takes place, a steward’s enquiry takes place and Horse McHorse is disqualified. This doesn’t affect your bet, which has already been paid out, in spite of Horse McHorse’s name being absent from the official result. In the official result, meanwhile, McHorse Horse has finished third, meaning that you’ll also be paid out on your Each-Way wager by most bookmakers. It is why it is always worth making sure that you’re placing your bets on horse racing with a bookie that obeys the First Past The Post rules.
Should You Contact Your Bookie?
One of the obvious questions that people will ask is whether it is worth contacting your bookmaker in instances where the official bet has changed and your wager suddenly becomes a winner. The short answer is that it’s always worth a try, but don’t hold your breath. The chance of a bookmaker paying you money when they don’t have to is slim to none, as anyone that thinks that they’ve won a bet only to have a bookie refuse to payout on a technicality knows only too well. With this in mind, you might think it’s pointless to even bother.
Of course, bookmakers like to keep their customers happy if they can, especially if you don’t win your bets very often. The result of this is that some bookmakers might choose to give some punters winnings on bets that have suddenly become winners in the form of free bet tokens, for example. This means that you technically get some form of ‘winnings’, but it has to be reinvested with the bookie in question rather than spent as cash. It is not ideal, obviously, but it is still preferable to them simply refusing to pay you anything at all.
One of the key things that you need to think about is how long ago the event took place and when it is that you’re looking to claim a payout. Getting in touch now to ask for a payout on the aforementioned Serie A result of 2004-2005 would result in a bookie laughing at you, for example. Speaking to them the day of, or a day or two after, the official result has seen a change in the outcome of the event might well mean that you can persuade them to offer you some recompense, even if it isn’t the one that you really want.
Ultimately, though, the reality is that your pleas will almost certainly fall on deaf ears. The bookies have your money and they don’t want you to have any of their money, so they will point to their official rules, terms and conditions in order to prove that all has been done fairly. The other reason you might want to contact them is if you’re not sure why you haven’t received a payout, but the best thing to do in that case is to read through the T&Cs in order to ensure you understand exactly what has happened and why your wager isn’t a winner.
If you are looking for bookies with the fairest terms consider either bet365, who often offer payouts on official results and amended results, or Paddy Power who commonly offer ‘justice refunds’ or ‘justice payouts’ that pay bets they deem to have been unfairly settled.
For example, Paddy Power paid out on both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen winning the 2021 drivers championship in F1 despite Max Verstappen winning it in the end thanks to the huge controversy that led to the result.
They also voided bets and refunded stakes placed on Rafa Nadal when he withdrew from Wimbledon in 2022, as shown in the example above.