DCMS Should Let Sleeping Bets Lie
Whatever decision John Penrose MP makes on the issue of dormant accounts and “sleepers” (unclaimed winning bets) it is likely to be either wrong or cause a political wrangle between the Conservatives and their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.

The idea originated from Don Foster MP (Lib Dem) and believe it or not it actually made it into the Lib Dems manifesto at the last general election.
Don Foster believes that money left by punters in betting shops or in online betting accounts should be paid over to a good cause such as youth sports.
The industry has resisted the claim on a number of grounds one of which is that such a move is discriminatory. Why pick on us? How about all the lost flight payments with Easyjet and Ryanair?
What is likely to be the most vexing problem for government is that technology within about two years will make sleepers a thing of the past.
At a recent BT Future of Technology seminar GBGC saw how technology will re-shape the High Street.
Your smartphone will be your payment card and by waving it over an in-store pad the sale price will be deducted from your bank account or credit card. Orange and Barclaycard, for example, have helped to develop the Samsung Tocco “Quick Tap” handset which includes and app allowing the user to “wave and pay”.


McDonalds will have installed this contactless payment technology in all of its UK restaurants by the summer. The benefits are that payments will be faster leading to less staff and shorter queues.
Speaking in May 2011 Vittorio Coalo, CEO of Vodafone, said Britons are at the forefront of the “digital revolution” and revealed that more than 90% of UK contract customers signed a smartphone contract in the three months to the end of March 2011.
“The UK is smartphone land,” Coalo said. 
If the government were to proceed with a dormant account and sleeper policy a charitable foundation would need to be set up to administer the funds. But the dormant account fund would rise and fall within a three year span. New retail technology will repay winning bets back to the customer’ account. In a few years there will be no unclaimed winnings in betting shops.
This would create a situation whereby the recipients of the funding (likely charities, youth sports clubs, arts organisations etc.) will spend all they receive and then will suffer a cash shortfall when the source of money dries up.
And who will be asked to make this up? Government (in reality the taxpayer).
Just in time for the next election.