Palpable Error, the bookmakers get out of jail free card. You’ll often not even get an explanation or an email telling you you’ve bet on a palpable error, you only know once you check you bet details and see something is wrong.
So what is a palpable error (used in conversation as getting on a
palp)? It is when a bookies offers a bet or odds in error and voids any
money taken on it. Unfortunately there is no industry standard or legal
definition to what constitutes an error, or what should be done in such
circumstances. And this is the reason for us, the punter, feeling
conned. In Italy the government has even put a stop to the practice by
banning bookmakers from voiding bets due to palpable error – if the
bookie takes the bet, they must honour it.
How Cowboy bookies handle palpable errors
What a palpable error is to one bookie might not be to another and here lies the problem, it is a bit of a Wild West area that needs to be standardised. I’ve heard of cowboy bookmakers voiding, using the palpable error excuse, for their odds being just a few ticks off top price (offering 2.0 when everyone else is 1.9). This can be an absolute nightmare for arbitrage betting punters, exposing them to unwanted risk.
I also know of one bookie, who shall remain nameless as they have since changed that policy, which would only void the winning selection of the palpable error, keeping the money on the losing sides while just returning the stakes from the winning side. For example, if they make a mistake on over/under 2.5 goals, giving the odds for the 3.5 line instead. The dirty trick they used was to just void the over 2.5 bet, as the customer was getting massive value, and leave the bet on under 2.5 to run.
Waiting for the result before voiding bets. This is a trick I’m sure
some smaller firms practice, none will come out and say they do of
course. But I’ve previously got on bets that I thought had a high likely
hood of being voided due to being a palpable error, then I see that the
bookie had spotted the issue and corrected the odds, as at this time my
bet wasn’t voided I assumed they would let it run. Only after the game
had finished and the bet became a winner did they then decided to void
it. I’m pretty sure had it lost the bet wouldn’t have been voided.
How respectable bookies deal with palpable errors
Firstly a decent bookie will not do any of the above, and defiantly not void a bet because a move has gone against them and they are not top price or bigger. They would also be 100% consistent on their palpable error rules, not changing them to suit what would be the best result for them.
I’ve had a winning bet on bet365 that was a palpable error and instead of them voiding the bet (it was an in-play bet) they paid it out at the odds that it should have been. I’d say this is a good practice that should be the norm. But even this has led to bad press for some bookies; one example being a bet a punter had with Coral knowing he was getting on a palpable error, yet on them only paying what was the correct odds, complained to national newspapers giving a massive amount of bad press.