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If you have ever had a bet and you have received less than you thought you would, the chances are you have been subjected to the wonderful Rule 4. It is a rule invented by the British bookmaking industry which usually applies to a horse race or a greyhound race when a runner has been removed and you have taken the price of the runner.
For example, you might back the 2nd favorite in a horse race in the morning at odds of 3/1. 15 minutes before the off, the 6/4 favorite gets scratched from the race, meaning the bookmakers have to create a new market. This would mean your horse would be the new favorite, and would have a greater chance of winning now that there is one less horse (and in theory a better horse) in the race. Because of this, your bet, should it win, would be subjected to Rule 4. The amount deducted from your bet would depend on what price the scratched selection was. In our example, your winnings would be subjected to a loss of 40 pence in the pound. So for every one pound you would have won, you would only win 60 pence. The below table details how much each price would reduce your winnings by should your selection win:
|Odds||Rule 4 Deduction|
|1/9 or less||90 pence in the pound|
|2/11 to 2/17||85 pence in the pound|
|1/4 to 1/5||80 pence in the pound|
|3/10 to 2/7||75 pence in the pound|
|2/5 to 1/3||70 pence in the pound|
|8/15 to 4/9||65 pence in the pound|
|8/13 to 4/7||60 pence in the pound|
|4/5 to 4/6||55 pence in the pound|
|20/21 to 5/6||50 pence in the pound|
|1/1 to 6/5||45 pence in the pound|
|5/4 to 6/4||40 pence in the pound|
|13/8 to 7/4||35 pence in the pound|
|15/8 to 9/4||30 pence in the pound|
|5/2 to 3/1||25 pence in the pound|
|100/30 to 4/1||20 pence in the pound|
|9/2 to 11/2||15 pence in the pound|
|6/1 to 9/1||10 pence in the pound|
|10/1 to 14/1||5 pence in the pound|
|Greater than 14/1||No deduction|
You should note that if there is more than one runner scratched from the race, the deduction from any winnings will be no more than 90 pence in the pound.
However, this does not apply to ante-post betting, one of the reasons being that if you make a bet on a race before the final declarations are made, you will not get your bet refunded (unless otherwise specified). The odds you get ante-post tend to reflect the chance that your selection might be scratched before final declarations are made.
It is also worth noting that other events outside of horse racing and greyhound racing can have Rule 4 deductions. For example, if a golfer pulls out of the tournament just before they are about to start, any bets placed no the market will be subject to Rule 4 deductions in the exact same way as a horse race or greyhound race.
So Rule 4 is definitely need to keep in mind when betting on sports, it might save you from some embarrassment if you ever query why your return was not as big as you thought it might be.