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leif
07 Jul 19 21:21
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Date Joined: 26 Jun 08
| Topic/replies: 4,782 | Blogger: leif's blog
...to save the sport of kings?

Are the recent travails of our nation's Bookmaking Fraternity ominous signs that the day has come, whether desirable or otherwise, for the kind of intervention that will safeguard the future of the sport we have enjoyed for decades?

My first experience of a betting shop was tagging along with my old dad to an opaque-windowed lean-to attached to the side of a British Legion Club. Seem to recall a chart on the wall outlining various limits on horse-racing and greyhound bets and one line in particular that appeared to have been updated on several occasions restricting patrons to walking off with no more than 3 thousand of the family's hard earned wonga. Punters could win far more with 8 draws on the Littlewood Pools coupon but it didn't deter the regulars from betting with said Bookmaker. After all, old Fred with his gammy leg wasn't likely to walk two miles between races to bet with the big boys.

As small as this type of Bookie was it still meant that the many thousands of similar sites contributed their betting tax to the Levy board (if that what it was called in the late seventies/eighties). The old boy moved on to bet with one of the 'big 3' speculating that he could now win a life-changing amount. The closest he ever came was getting 6 out of 7 winners on the old ITV 7. It took him the rest of that Saturday and all day Sunday to recover from the disappointment!

>>>Fast Forward to 1999. Hardly any small independent Bookmakers left after they've been swallowed up by the larger fish with the Big 3 migrating to the High Street with open windowed gambling emporiums replete with all-singing, all-dancing machines that could win you, or conversely lose you a week's wages in the blink of an eye.

By then I was working for an outfit that owned a sizeable estate which they subsequently off-loaded to the 'Magic Sign' for a princely sum (the owner told me at that time that in his opinion the stand-alone betting shop would become obsolete). The Magic Sign hierarchy were lauding the arrival of the automated pocket-fleecers (FOBT's) as the saviour of the Bookmaking industry. I don't recall the name of the supremo but later recall him stating that only 50% of turnover at that time emanated from Horse and Greyhound racing with the rest coming from Sports betting and latterly the machine. The warning signs for the future of horse racing funding were already apparent years ago.

The regulars at the shops I worked in were raging against the machines from the outset with many adopting the practice of placing their bets early and vacating the joint before the younger element waltzed in slamming and banging the machine buttons bemoaning their luck and labelling anyone within 10 feet of them 'a jinx', staff especially. That for me was the end of Bookmaking as I knew it, bereft of the pre-afternoon's horse-racing banter and discussion and now replaced with drug-fuelled criminals (many of them) taking over the joint. The same morons would be suitably, but on reflection, unsurprisingly drawn to the cartoon racing at Churchill Downs given its short amount of time to reach a conclusion. I can't remember any of the Roulette Hill Mob ever asking me to explain what a Yankee, Flag, Heinz or forecast treble was. No surprise there given their propensity to seek the adrenaline rushes served up by rapid reel spins. The Magic Sign et al happy to evolve into nothing more than arcade owners and the Levy board caring not where revenue came from as long as it meant a million races could take place and get funding every year.

So where are we at now?

New lows from the likes of Ladbrokes/Corals, Betfair Paddy Power all merging with William Hill trying to sell itself to any Gaming outfit that will accept it. Along with Betfred the lot of them having opened up shops on every street corner, utilising any empty ex-bank branch or church, now begging landlords to cut their rent in half all because legislation has cut their turnover massively.  What will become of these empty units is another debate.Thankfully though, the 'crack-cocaine' of so-called betting shop gamblers has been finally been classed as a Grade A drug. They should offer betting shop staff counselling for the psychological torment of having been forced to cajole punters into playing the machines in the form of competitions etc. Was the shop manager's monthly bonus incentive linked to how much the crooks lost on the roulette wheel?

These operators are no longer the entities their founders set them up to be. Afraid to take a decent wager, allergic to taking bets linked to tipsters for fear they will used by the 'filthy arbers'. Keeping log books on any regular that makes a profit at the end of the month and perhaps the most insidious and cowardly of acts in recent times, Coral refusing to take pre-race odds on the 5th, 6th or 7th leg of Frankie Dettori's mounts.Frankie could well have seven mounts this coming Saturday at the scene of his most heinous, Bookie-bashing crime of 1996. What will they accept this weekend? Will they inform us they are unable to accept 7 timers because they have no means of laying off the liability at the course? They should hang their heads in shame as they masquerade as Bookmakers.

The boardroom directors have waltzed away with huge amounts of money in the last couple of decades (Denise Coates of Bet 365 paid herself 265 million quid in 2017) mostly on the back of online machine addicts. Now we have the big players throwing their dummies out of the pram and closing shops with total disregard for their staff or trying to break into foreign markets to avoid the storm that's coming their way by way of more legislation to tackle online addiction.. Apparently, Denise started off as a cashier marking boards for her father, so I assume she is aware of how poorly paid betting shop staff are (even though Bet 365 have none) and the amount of 'stick' that work sector take. I doubt whether the elites of Hills, the Magic Sign and Coral are even aware of how much a cashier earns in a month.

So, if the 'Big 3 or 4' slash their estates in the coming months, years and let's face it they will probably follow Hills and do it very,very soon, what effect is this going to have on the Horse racing scene when funding is cut to ribbons? They are to endure more grief with increased Government levy, charged against their online gaming to offset the loss of retail revenue and to further combat problem gambling.

So where will the levy board get the necessary funding from to sustain the racing programme throughout the year? Does anyone know? The generations that follow us will have no interest in betting shops or gambling on horses for that matter. They don't have the attention span to spend 6 minutes watching a horse race to unfold. Betting shops in my opinion will disappear from the High Street and with it the brands that were omnipresent in our life-times.

Finally, to the question I want to pose. Is it time for a Tote Monopoly of horse racing to ensure the survival of the sport many of us grew to love?

Would it be more prudent to offer the custodianship to an entity entrusted with the responsibility of transferring a guaranteed pool percentage into the sport in order that its long term future is secured?

Is the funding of horse racing in a precarious position with the Bookmakers heading for the hills and in reverse gear at a rate of knots?

Will the generations that follow be concerned if the range of bets that we can currently enjoy are absent or even be bothered as long as they get their quick hits?

Surely it will be far easier for racing to survive if wagers are placed at the click of a button, if technology allows gamblers to use a wide range of devices to place their bets and where outlets in a multitude of retail or leisure establishments, Bingo Halls, Supermarkets, Pubs and even Post Offices if there are any left, allow money to be channeled into the race pools. A wide range of large pooled prize bets will be more alluring to the next generation than giving them a pen and paper and asking them to put a yankee on.

Like nearly everything else that affects our lives, it only takes a generation to change a society norm. Should the present custodians be allowed to drag the sport of kings into the wastelands?

I hope not!

Ps

Apologies in advance for the rant.
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Report DIFERENT GRAVY 12 July 7, 2019 9:02 PM BST
My eyes would bleed if I read all that, so


Where is it running and what price is it?
Report onlooker July 7, 2019 9:03 PM BST
They won't be able to have their 'Frankie Accas' and Multiples, though ...

- unless they select him in every leg of the Tote Jackpot.
Report Lee Ho Fooks July 7, 2019 9:32 PM BST
They won't be able to have their 'Frankie Accas' and Multiples, though

But the beauty of it is they will be able to have their accas - at the local pub,post office, supermarket, coffee shop etc
Report leif July 7, 2019 9:47 PM BST
Coral shying away from 'Frankie accas' tantamount almost to admitting they've given up being Bookmakers. Only time will determine the fate of the Horse racing game in its present form. I'm not suggesting for one moment that multiple bets of any kind will be available via a tote based system but Tote pool bets will, and with potentially big pots.
Report onlooker July 7, 2019 10:40 PM BST
How - Lee Ho Fooks? ... The TOTE does NOT offer the option to have Yankees, etc
Report ItsMeSwaddle July 7, 2019 10:58 PM BST
I wouldn’t mind if we bet to less than 107-108ish % book
You
Report acey deucy July 8, 2019 6:15 AM BST
Very good leif.Big changes ahead.
Report ihal essex July 8, 2019 1:40 PM BST
Cracking read Leif. Should a Tote monopoly come about, it's imperative that the Nanny Goat be taken off old Baldy - the tote dividends continue to be truly shocking compared to SP - testimony that post-race winner wagering remains alive and kicking!
Report flatcap July 8, 2019 1:49 PM BST
The main problem is the bookies have had their cash cow restricted by the government (FOBT) just like they've been restricting punters for years. They're getting a taste of their own medicine and don't like it.

I personally don't think their will ever be a Tote monopoly in the UK.
Report wroughtironronn July 8, 2019 4:26 PM BST
The tragedy started ten years ago when the Govt was told by the EU, it had to sell off the Tote - Baldy borrowed to buy it and took on the liabilities of it's pension fund, having agreed beforehand to pay in to reduce any deficit.

God help us from here
Report sparrow July 8, 2019 4:41 PM BST
The Tote could always convert into an exchange or is that too radical for this industry to contemplate?
Report TheAnorak July 8, 2019 5:17 PM BST
A Tote monopoly - would that be just for horse race betting, or would you expect it to apply to all sports betting. Are you proposing to close down all the fixed odds bookies and this place as well.

As for a Tote based exchange, not just too radical, but too expensive(software and equipment) and too late in the game.
Report unbiased July 9, 2019 12:18 PM BST
A good post for a change.
Add to it,the fact that staff are under instructions to play the machines in "demo mode",in order to understand new games.
So how many young staff will be converted to fobt players when not working.This has most certainly happened to some.
Report leif July 10, 2019 9:32 PM BST
Unbiased, I know of one manager who ended up being questioned by the polis after he got hooked on playing the things in his own shop and totting up credits or something akin to that. Avoided court, but walked the plank.

Gaming analysts are advising online operators to focus on Mobile gaming apps to target the younger element and in turn take advantage of the entertainment they get using them. Apparently the young uns are prepared to sacrifice ROI as long as they have a good time. Insidious, probably, personal, nope, because it's just business and this is the business that will see growth in the next few years.
Report leif October 31, 2020 9:39 PM GMT
[Caveat]
Don't bother reading the initial post if you fear your eyes may bleed Happy

Prompted by Chapper's comment this morning when he mentioned a 'Tote Monopoly'

His, was in the light of Sid Hooper purchasing shed loads of on course pitches from the big fish in a climate of uncertainty.

After all, why should he make it pay despite his reservation that it could be the worst financial decision he's made.

Chappers proffered the suggestion of surveying on-course bookmakers as to how long they are prepared to weather the Covid storm. Could they survive, one year, two years and beyond without packing it in and seeking other employment?

Personally, and it's just my opinion but I can't see any vaccine intervention that will prevent constant disruption to turnover both on-course and off-course (betting shops) for the next 12 months and possibly beyond.

The detrimental affect on prize money as a direct result of disruption will only further serve to exacerbate the plight of those owners upon which the future of horse ownership and racing relies.

Horseracing was already in a position where the next generations are not interested in gambling on horse or greyhounds and are preoccupied with quick hits on digital mediums.

Not a big fan of Chappers but it would be interesting to see if his survey of on-course bookmaker's current prospects of longevity manifests itself.


I could be wrong but it's the first time he's touted a Tote Monopoly.


It's not a panacea but it could just about maintain the future of the sport sport?
Report comingupthehill November 1, 2020 1:24 AM GMT
Looks like tote monopoly could happen. If chapters allowed to say it on itv.
Betfair exchange should buy the new tote. Then all the pitch owners should be given shares in new company. To compensate them. Then on course only should be a tote monopoly.
Given everyone uses phone or bets on line. This wouldn’t affect big 4/3/2 whatever it is these days.
Report wonby10 November 1, 2020 9:48 AM GMT
You can look to Australia which has the system where the TAB (Tote) has an off-course monopoly and are the only betting agency allowed to operate outlets in the high street or in clubs.

Bookmakers must be licensed by a State or Territory Govt Authority in the State or Territory (ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, TAS, VIC, WA) they wish to operate on course and if you want to bet face to face or telephone betting with a bookie you can, for instance, go to Randwick racecourse even when there is no racing at the course and place a bet with a bookie on racing around Australia. For online betting, a bookie can get a license in any State or Territory within Australia for online wagering but the bet must be taken in the State or Territory where they are licensed.

This system has brought about over many years the decline of on-course bookies. The last time I went to the dogs (several years ago) there were just two bookies and not doing much business. I'm told at harness race (the trots) meetings there are no bookies present, while at thoroughbreds it depends on where the course is and how good the horses are going around.
Report wonby10 November 1, 2020 9:48 AM GMT
You can look to Australia which has the system where the TAB (Tote) has an off-course monopoly and are the only betting agency allowed to operate outlets in the high street or in clubs.

Bookmakers must be licensed by a State or Territory Govt Authority in the State or Territory (ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, TAS, VIC, WA) they wish to operate on course and if you want to bet face to face or telephone betting with a bookie you can, for instance, go to Randwick racecourse even when there is no racing at the course and place a bet with a bookie on racing around Australia. For online betting, a bookie can get a license in any State or Territory within Australia for online wagering but the bet must be taken in the State or Territory where they are licensed.

This system has brought about over many years the decline of on-course bookies. The last time I went to the dogs (several years ago) there were just two bookies and not doing much business. I'm told at harness race (the trots) meetings there are no bookies present, while at thoroughbreds it depends on where the course is and how good the horses are going around.
Report onlooker November 1, 2020 2:10 PM GMT
from   the original, opening. post ....

Will the generations that follow be concerned if the range of bets that we can currently enjoy are absent or even be bothered as long as they get their quick hits?
-------------

Just how many of us can ... "currently enjoy" this range of bets .... without massive RESETRICTION - if at all?

A complete Waste of time and effort in this day and age.

BIN the Betting Shop Bookies .... They have HAD THEIR DAY. - and would probably agree that it would be doing them a favour ... as the (same) OnLine Operators are much more interested in offering FOOTBALL and Tennis etc.
-----------------

I would  love regular BIG  TOTE POOLS ....

Not too dissimilar to betting on HERE - But with guaranteed LIQUIDITY.
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