Monday, 31 August 2009

wowser American judges kill off Delaware sports betting

So Delaware had a great idea to bring in legalised sports betting. After all, if Vegas is doing it, and other states like Oregon have it via a 'sports lottery', then why not Delaware? Particularly when the state is struggling with the recession like the rest of the world.

Well, the state government approved it, then the nosey sports leagues ganged up on them and got it shut down. It defies all logic. Legalised and licensed gambling enables sporting authorities to have a money trail, so they can detect any attempted corruption and fraud. If you leave it to the illegal bookies in bars and on street corners, the ones who they will never be able to get rid of, then there is no means of detection. It's all underground and grubby. Legalising one or two state-licensed venues, which would have been taxed enough to keep the margins no more attractive than the outlaws in the Caribbean or on the street corner, and you have an audit trail. It's not as if these firms are going to let players on for unlimited amounts - go to the extent of max bet $1000 or something to keep check of the potential social issues (which are always overstated but in a conservative nation like the US you have to start somewhere - casinos and slots which never stop are far more dangerous and provide 95%+ of problem gamblers) and appease the sports bodies who are paranoid of gambling affecting their games.

Do they really think professional players who get millions to sit on the bench all season will be tempted by the small amounts a gambler could get on with a government-licensed firm? Better to bring them into the spotlight and monitor it instead of let them go unchecked betting with underground bookies, the ones prepared to send the boys around if you don't pay up or do what you're told, or the 'outlaws' in the Caribbean. Who was behind Hansie Cronje, Tim Donaghy, the Chicago Blacksox, the lights being shut down at West Ham, Salim Malik, etc etc? Everyone of them was with unlicensed bookies. Licensed bookies have too much at stake to get involved - their own money and their licence.

Judges kill Delaware sportsbetting - single-game wagering denied

So instead the judges let them bet minimum three-game parlays or trebles to the rest of the world. Wow, that's about as exciting as watching paint dry. Still, it's Americans we are talking about here - they thought George Bush machs I and II was a good idea....

Sunday, 30 August 2009

US Open tennis previews

In case you haven't found the link from my Twitter updates, listed on the top right, here is where you can find my US Open previews from a betting perspective.

More often that not, I'll post links to the previews there so keep an eye on those comments and links. From the PuntingAce site, you'll also be able to check my previews of the last few years and decide for yourself if they're any good or not :)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

La Liga season starts this weekend - a preview

After all the commotion about Ronaldo, Kaka, Alonso, Benzema and Ibrahimovic, the Spanish season is about to get underway.

Here's a look at the season ahead from

Let's hope all the money being pumped into it doesn't turn La Liga into a two-horse race, that just kills all the excitement very quickly....

Friday, 28 August 2009

William Hill join the football sponsorship party

Who'd have thought crusty old William Hill would sponsor a football team? Certainly not in the UK but they've taken the big step to sponsor Malaga, the closest club to their Gibraltar base of online operations, in La Liga.

William Hill signs shirt sponsorship deal with Malaga CF

It's easier this season to count the clubs who aren't sponsored by bookmakers!

sports betting market manipulation rears its ugly head

Hardly a surprise considering the size of the UK betting market...

Rafa and Ribery used in betting scam

How hard do you think it would be to set this up? Bookies and punters love jumping at shadows or following the money regardless. Sooner or later, it had to turn into a scam. This sort of thing is outlawed in the financial world but I reckon it would be nigh on impossible to ban in the sports betting world. These types of markets - Next Manager, Player Transfers - are completely fuelled by rumours. If bookies want to bet on them, then they're asking for trouble....

The 'high-rollers' involved in this must have been losing accounts the syndicate bought to maximise their return - have you ever tried getting a decent bet on these markets???

Thursday, 27 August 2009

snooker players arrested on match-fixing allegations

About time something was done on this one. As posted here last year, something was very fishy with this match - people don't go out of their way to be betting on correct frame score unless something is up.

Duo detained by police

Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett have been detained by police looking into alleged irregular betting patterns during a UK Championship match.

Both were helping Strathclyde Police with their inquiries in connection with the outcome of the game in Telford on December 15 last year.

A Strathclyde Police spokesman said: "Our economic crime unit can confirm that two men, aged 28 and 33, have been detained and are assisting Strathclyde Police with their inquiries into the alleged irregular betting pattern associated with the snooker match involving Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett."

The first-round match, which was subject to investigations by World Snooker and the Gambling Commission, was won 9-3 by Maguire.

The problem is, with allegations like these, things have to happen faster than eight months later. I understand that legal cases take time to prepare but punters lose out, the image of the sport loses out and perhaps, occasionally the players aren't to blame, but would be hung out to dry for many months.

Racing NSW introduces radical new handicapping system

Racing in NSW, particularly in the city, has long been dogged by too many small fields and domination by big stables such as Gai Waterhouse and the former Ingham/Hawkes empire. This system, on first glance, appears to fix some of the shortfalls in the old system. Country horses will be better off when coming to town - i.e. weighted to have a chance rather just be making up the numbers.

New handicapping system for NSW racing to start October 1

I'm keen to see this in action. If they can implement what they are proposing, it could be the rocket up the proverbial .... that NSW racing needs to get back into a healthier state. Having city meetings with average field sizes of 6 or 7 does nothing to inspire punters.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

BetonBet collapses

Another minor sportsbook, along with their partners EuroLinx and LinxCasino, goes belly up. Poor management, poor business plan... who knows? But punters once again get screwed. Stick to the bigger names and if you must play in the lesser-known books, use Moneybookers and Neteller to keep your balance down to a minimum.

LinxMedia Group bankrupt

BetOnBet was an odds aggregation bookmaker - meaning they used an odds comparison service to form their odds and simply sit in the middle all the time. And they still couldn't make a profit - or perhaps the losses from the rest of the business were too heavy. Just guessing, but they probably had to spend too much on marketing and promotions to get clients. Or they were just poorly managed. The sportsbook was relatively new compared to the poker and casino arms so chances are the other products and their marketing/bonus schemes led to their downfall.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

more Russian skiers test positive for EPO

They're at it again. After three leading Russian biathletes were busted for it back in February, now it''s the turn of the cross-country skiers to cheat the system and get caught.

Three Russian skiers test positive for EPO

Two of the three athletes were Olympic gold medallists as well, and conveniently, they will both now retire - probably to a hero's farewell.

Winter sports need to take a hardline stance like weightlifting - multiple failed drug tests leads to that country being barred from major competitions. Until that happens, this ugly cycle will continue. And any athlete who tests positive to the more serious drugs, such as steroids and EPO, should all their previous achievements wiped from the record books.

The Ashes - so what went wrong?

Firstly, congratulations to England for winning back the Ashes. I still struggle to fathom how they did it, with most statistical measures pointing towards Australia, but at the end of the day, the book says 2-1 to England, and the rest is immaterial.

The Aussies:

Katich - averaged 42, scored one century, performed well at short leg with a couple of dismissals in the final Test which only a specialist could conjure. Far better this tour than last time and is the steady opener we need.

Hughes - such a talented kid, got found out early and got replaced by an allrounder who suddenly found a role. He'll be back soon enough after remedial work on his technique. He is too good to be lost to the team for long, but couldn't quite handle the pressure cooker of the Ashes so early in his career.

Watson - most bagged his selection but you can't bag his performance. Three 50s in five innings, average of 48, although it was disappointing he didn't convert any of those into a score higher than 62. The only Aussie batsman to play three Tests and not score a ton.

Ponting - nothing wrong with his batting, a ton, two fifties, and averaged 48 with no not outs. Poor reading of the pitch at The Oval. Unlucky in his final innings to be caught out by a fabulous direct hit from Flintoff when a big score was in the offing. Australia's highest ever runscorer who will forever be known as the captain who lost the Ashes twice. He has been a decent captain without being great - but how much of that is due to the cattle he has had? Few captains would have been able to deal with the changing of the guard any better. Kudos for his graciousness in defeat at the end, much more mature than in previous years and finally won the English fans over.

Clarke - two hundreds, two fifties, our most consistent batsman of the series. Didn't get much of a chance with the ball, but wasn't needed to. Out via a fluke deflection in his final dig when he could have fought off the inevitable for at least a bit longer. Much better on this tour than the last. The heir-apparent for Ponting's job, but will he be any good at it? The main reason people are wary of him as captain is more due to his looks than his skills.

Hussey - should have been dropped early in the series and has probably now saved his bacon for at least a few more Tests. It was a long time between centuries for him, and almost all of his runs in the series came too late. He was sadly lacking when the game was there to be won in the first dig. Kudos for his resilience on the last day, but too little too late and the strategy of not bringnig another batsman on the tour saved his tail. Perhaps if Hughes hadn't struggled as much, he'd have got the shove...

North - strong performance on his first tour, and could have been the one to salvage Australia's woeful first innings at the Oval if not for a woeful decision from Rauf. Two hundreds, averaged over fifty, top effort and he is locked into the team for tho foreseeable future.

Haddin - averaged 46, got a ton, tidy behind the stumps, can't ask for much more.

Manou - got the shock of his life when suddenly had to don his whites and play at Edgbaston when Haddin got injured in the warm-up. Likely to be a one Test wonder unless Haddin gets injured again.

Johnson - a disappointing series from the no.1 strike bowler. It wasn't until Edgbaston that he started showing anything and then Headingley before he really clicked. Got 20 wickets without playing well for most of the series, and gave away stacks of runs which didn't help. Too much bullshit trying to look pretty and fuss about his WAG. Piss her off and play cricket, that's what you get paid for. One innings of 63 masked a poor series with the bat (two ducks), and this is a player ear-marked for all-rounder status.

Siddle - 20 wickets for the series, one great innings at Headingley where everyone was on song, otherwise just battled hard for his scalps. Strike rate of a wicket every eight overs, the best of all our bowlers, which highlights the fact that none of them were dangerous enough. Destined to be a Merv Hughes-like figure, good honest trier but rarely going to be a matchwinner.

Hauritz - stiff not to get back in the team for the final Test when the wicket was never ever going to be a greentop for the pacemen. The most economical of bowlers, a vital statistic when Johnson was getting spanked. A good team needs a spinner for balance. In the absence of any better candidate, he should be in the team.

Clark - after all the calls for him to play, he delivered in one innings (3/18) where I could have swung the ball and taken wickets. After that, he took a laborious 1/158. Needed to deliver when the series was on the line and didn't. He is not the future of this team.

Hilfenhaus - great performance, taking 22 wickets on his first tour, especially when he was no sure thing to play in Cardiff. Not as dangerous as Terry Alderman back in the 80s, but did a very good job. Tight line, best average.

The English:

Strauss - player of the series and too good as a captain as well. Until the team's final innings, he was the only English centurion and scored three fifties as well. Got the bowling changes right, the field settings and the tactics. When England were on top, he really went for the jugular and that got the two victories. More than 200 runs clear of any of his teammates.

Cook - a poor series. Take out his own score of 95 and he made 127 from eight innings, similar figures to Bopara. Best performance of the series was getting in the way of a shot from Clarke on the final day, allowing Strauss to pick up the rebound and run him out.

Bopara - flat-track bully. Very good against weak teams, and looked like a rabbit in the headlights from the opening over in Cardiff when Siddle got him in the throat. Not Test standard.

Pietersen - almost cost England the Test in Cardiff with that ridiculous sweep shot, not that he'd ever admit it. Decent average of 38 from four innings but then missed the rest of the series with injury.

Bell - slightly better than Bopara (looks the part against weak attacks, suspect against better teams) and lucky that Pietersen was injured otherwise he'd have been playing for Warwickshire all summer. Take the two fifties out of his five innings and there is very little to show for his series.

Collingwood - Mr Dull took England close to saving the First Test and then played only bit parts thereafter. Three fifties in his 250 runs for the series, meaning his other efforts were lame. 27.77 average for a series is not good enough for a key batsman.

Trott - averaged 80 on debut with an important century and unlucky in the first innings to be run out via a freakish bit of fielding. Looks to have a future as yet another South African in the England team....

Prior - two fifties but only averaged 32. When batting at no.6, you must do better. That's 14 less than Haddin whom he must be marked against. Big improvement in his glovework.

Flintoff - 5/92 at Lords, then took 3/325 for the rest of the series. Entertained with the bat, but too flamboyant for a key innings. Did make important runs with Prior on more than one occasion, waking the crowd up after they all fell asleep with Collingwood at the crease. Farewell Freddie, Test cricket is losing one of its genuine characters and gentlemen, remembering the sportsmanship of Edgbaston 05.

Broad - only 23 and on the way to becoming a very good all-rounder. I don't rate him that highly yet, it's probably that baby-face thing. Batting & bowling stats both close to 30, two fifties, two five-fers, can't ask for a lot more.

Swann - averaged 35 with the bat, thanks to entertaining innings at Headingley and The Oval. Bowls a bit too, a little expensive averaging 40 runs per wicket, but got some important ones. Could push for an allrounder tag the way he's been batting.

Anderson - finally got a duck to end his streak. Averaged 45 with the ball, apart from one five-fer he was anonymous all series.

Harmison - don't really rate this bloke but did fire up a bit at The Oval and trouble the batsmen. Bowled better than his figures suggest. Still a mummy's boy who doesn't like touring...

Onions - second-best average of all the England bowlers, yet dropped for the final Test. Did enough to suggest he'll be in the England side for a while yet. His opening over of day two at Edgbaston almost won them that match.

Panesar - his bowling is way off at the moment, but his batting in the closing stages of the Cardiff Test virtually saved the series for England.

When England won a rare session, they really nailed it. Rather than taking 5/60 in a session, they tore right through and left Australia reeling. That's what won them the series.....

Monday, 24 August 2009

Betfair to be legal in France?

According to this report from Egamingreview they are. The only problem is, the French government will drag the process out as long as they possibly can to protect their local monopolies, while making it look like they are complying with European Union directives.

Betfair get clearance from France ahead of liberalisation

Interesting comment at the bottom, with someone disputing whether France have even established their gaming regulatory authority yet...

UK press getting sucked in again over Betfair float talks

The financial sections of Sunday's papers got all excited about rumours of a Betfair float again.

Betfair considers £1.5bn flotation

The logic is all wrong. The company has been profitable every year since it began. Its cash reserves are huge and there would be little benefit in going to market. The company does however need an exit strategy for the next maturing staff share plan in October, and if and when Andrew Black decides to step away completely from the business, which is a possibility as he has little to do with the firm apart from board activity these days. A full-scale float in either of those cases is unlikely to be required. The other option would be if major investor Softbank wanted to bail out, but that's unlikely after just a couple of years, unless they have issues elsewhere. Or perhaps a listed company would look better to American authorities if the market there was opening up....

Betfair will float eventually. They have been reporting like a floated company and preparing for the relevant corporate governance and responsibility for years. Unless they suddenly wanted to buy a land casino or a major competitor, I'd be very surprised if they floated in the near future. This talk has happened several times before, Betfair were serious about it when they appointed Stephen Hill as CEO a few years back, but they decided it wasn't right at the time and Hill departed soon after. Journos love something to talk about on quiet news days, and it's not as if there have been many big IPOs lately with the state of the economy!

Footnote - I no longer have anything to do with Betfair apart from writing the occasional article for them and drinking with ex-colleagues occasionally, none of whom would be involved in any decision-making process regarding an IPO.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Betfair and TVG throw out a carrot for Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta

TVG-Betfair to add $400,000 to purse for Beldame Stakes if Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta race

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Two online wagering businesses are offering to add $400,000 to the purse of the Beldame Stakes, hoping to entice Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta into running against each other at Belmont Park.

The pledge announced Friday by TVG and Betfair Ltd. would create a $1 million purse for the Oct. 3 race if the two female stars are in the starting gate.


With connections of Rachel Alexandra afraid to run on synthetic surfaces, the Breeders' Cup is out, so will the American racing public get to see the clash they are dying to see before these super female horses head to the breeding barn? We can only hope so....

Racing NSW's 'court win' is just a desperate grab for publicity

So Racing NSW was successful with the Federal Court in their demands to see some documents from Betfair, making it sound like Betfair had something to hide. Well, being a private company without the need to publish their accounts each year (which they do anyway), you could understand why they'd be reluctant to do so. After all, there are dozens of rival firms out there who would love to find out how it all worked so well. But Racing NSW's victory was rather hollow.

Clutching at Straws

What Racing NSW forgot to explain in its Bulletin, was that the discovery claim it was appealing against was one which asked for some 60,000 documents from Betfair, including material prepared well before its Race Fields legislation went to Parliament.

Justice Perram disallowed that request on the basis that he could not see how such an onerous burden should be imposed on Betfair.

The final request allowed by the Full Federal Court amounted to some 100 documents.

The order was only permitted because counsel for Racing NSW admitted that their case had little chance of success unless something turned up in the new documents.

Bill Saunders continues to sink the boots into Racing NSW's spin machine:

The second element of the Bulletin repeated the fiction that the Supreme Court in Victoria had decreed that turnover was the only valid basis of determining a race fields fee.

It actually said nothing of the sort, as pointed out by Michael Duffy, Chairman of Racing Victoria in his own Participants Bulletin yesterday.

In what was purely an administrative law matter, TAB Limited claimed that the wording of the Victorian Race Fields law referring to "amount or amounts" required a precise fee to be charged as opposed to using a formula.

The betting on Racing NSW winning the race fields fee legislation against Betfair and Sportsbet is 'write your own ticket'.

Monday, 17 August 2009

World Athletics Championships

It's hard to top what happened in Berlin last night - how can you top a freak like Usain Bolt who can be so cheesy and relaxed moments before the race and then just blow everyone away?

It's women's 100m night tonight. Unfortunately, there's no hope of the women setting many world records any time soon as most of their records have been set by blatant drug cheats - the eastern bloc regime in the 80s and early 90s, or Flo Jo in the early 80s. The only woman to get anywhere near FloJo's times has been supposed freak athlete Marion Jones... and then it turned out she was on the juice as well. FloJo might never have tested positive, but neither did most of the East Germans - and when someone dies in their sleep of a heart attack at 38, and retires the day after out-of-competition drug testing was brought in... well, you make up your own mind. The only women's records which have gone in recent years have been in new events (steeplechase, pole vault), where the African distance runners have got involved (5000m) or the technology has changed (javelin).

Anyhow, there are three hot favourites in the women's finals tonight - Kerron Stewart (100m), Elena Isinbayeva (pole vault) and Gulnara Galkina (3000m steeplechase). I'm taking them all on and similarly with Kriztian Pars in the men's hammer throw final.

Best value bet of the night is Zarudneva in the steeplechase. Unfortunately very few bookies are offering each-way or w/o favourite markets at all.

PaddyPower to cash in on the "free" PR

Paddy Power decided to pay out on Tiger Woods winning the US PGA at the halfway stage. But nobody told Y.E.Yang about it. He played brilliantly under the pressure of playing in the last group with Tiger, and broke Woods' record of 14 majors won from leading/co-leading into the last round.

The PR stunt is estimated to cost the Irish bookmaker over £1 million, but the worldwide publicity they'll get out of it will more than make up for it, just like when local bookmaker Fred Done paid out early on Man Utd winning the title back in the late 90s. He got so much PR out of it, his local business is now a massive bookmaking firm with shops throughout the UK.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

finally, a better Australian racing channel

TVN had tried it but with limited broadcast rights and loads of filler programmes. Sky have finally got their act together and looked towards a global racing channel, covering the best racing each day in Australia, then linking up with international meetings overnight.

Sky racing towards a new TV era

Sounds promising, but you always have to be wary of the implementation when Sky/TABCorp are involved...

Friday, 14 August 2009

Federer v Tsonga - what a match! 1.01 gubbed!

When Roger Federer leads 5-1 in the third set, up a double break, you are entitled to think he is home.

But then Tsonga fights back, takes the lead at 6-5, and has Federer 0-40 on his serve - three match points

A few of the money-buyers will have absolutely soiled themselves over this one.

It's currently 3-3 in the final set tie-break, I doubt there'll be any more 1.01 traded!

UPDATE - Tsonga wins the tie-break 7-3 and the match 7-6 1-6 7-6.

the rumours are true - Betfair & Barcelona

Betfair have opened their deep coffers and stepped into the non-English language market for this first time - at least at this level. As tipped on this site months ago, Betfair have signed as official betting partner with FC Barcelona according to this report:

FC Barcelona sign with Betfair

It's a big step up from the days of sponsoring Fulham at Loftus Rd (when Craven Cottage was supposed to be getting re-developed). Will it open up South America for them? It might help if they stop using misleading ads about their products.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

TABCorp wins race fields fee challenge

Not sure exactly what this means - the fee structure gets overturned (how could it - surely they can't get Racing Victoria to change everyone else's fee structure?) or if it means the TABCorp's charge now changes to a significantly lower figure in line with everyone else? This could have ramifications...

Tabcorp successfully challenge Victoria race fields fee

We'll have to wait and see what Bill Saunders and the like have to say about it.

The Age has more on the story here

Tabcorp has $200m court win over racing fee

Does it all go back to the drawing board now?

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Racing for Change - solution one

The image of racing.

Look at racing in the media and what do you get? A lot of old faces with little appeal to the younger generation or non-racing followers.

Case in point - John McCririck. Failed bookmaker, failed punter, know-it-all, sexist bigot and regularly tarnishing the image of the sport with his 'They knew' comments. All that does is add to the negative connotations of the industry from people that barely follow it. That racing is for old people. That racing is corrupt. That racing is an old boys club. How many people have a clue what he is doing when waving his arms about? How many under the age of 45? How many under the age of 30? What other industry would allow one of its frontmen to be so politically incorrect at a time where racing is desperate for a higher profile?

I'm not a fan of Matt Chapman but a lot of people are. He does have an opinion, he does come across well on camera and he is not on the wrong side of 50.

Hayley Turner looked good on camera during her time out of the saddle, perhaps there is another woman out there capable of fronting the coverage, rather than just looking at hats and frocks.

Racing needs a positive image and good role models out there. Luke Harvey mentioned the abruptness of Mick Kinane recently in refusing an interview after a race. Make it like football and other big sports - give media training to all jockeys and trainers, and require them to give interviews at certain times, punishable with a fine. It is in their best interest to grow the sport - the more people that follow it, the more money ends up in the prize fund. Focus on the positives, the rest of the media will make it their business to find the negatives. Talk up Barney Curley's charitable efforts in Africa (I know there are several others, I just can't think of any more off the top of my head), the emergence of new stars, what has happened to some retired horses - showjumping, working for the police force etc to show they don't all go to the glue factory.

Emphasise quality over quantity. Not every horse ever bred deserves a race to run in. If they are too darn slow, they do not belong on a race track. Too much of a good thing puts everyone off. One day off occasionally is not necessarily a bad thing, or just rotate the balance - flat (all-weather) racing during the winter should be limited, just as National Hunt racing during the summer should slow down. It does not help the grand scheme of things when horses running out of season are bottom-class. Thin it out, punters only have so much money to spend.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Unibet doing very well out of international focus

Expanding outside the Nordic regions has worked well for Unibet, with over 50% of revenue coming from outside the Nordic countries for the first time.

Unibet overseas revenue tops 50%

Unibet now sponsor Valencia in Spain, FC Brugge in Belgium and Ferencvaros in Hungary, as well as their cycling team sponsorship (which I assume is still going). A gross win of £66.2m in half a year is very good, however without a retail shop market, I'd say their profit margin on that won't be that high compared to Paddy Power or Ladbrokes for example.

Racing for Change - good, bad or so-so?

Today's feature article in the Racing Post is all about the new project board charged with reinvigorating racing in Britain - Racing for Change. On the one hand, it is something the industry needs to drive it forward. On the other, it's a body full of chairmen and bigwigs who have had a big say in getting the industry where it is now.

Some of the proposals:

- Identifying key fixtures to clearly emphasise start and finish of premier Flat season

Doesn't the Lincoln at Doncaster, soon followed by the Craven meeting at Newmarket already mark the start of the season? The Champions Day meeting at Newmarket virtually finishes the season already.

- Create new showcase finale, to crown the champions of the Flat season

The likes of Ballydoyle and Godolphin control racing in Britain because they pick and choose where their horses run (and how those races are run) in order to create more commercial value for their breeding operations. The champions are unlikely to run a dozen times in the season, and unless the season finale races can immediately gain better breeding value than the likes of the Breeders' Cup or Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe, they'll have a hard time getting the best fields possible. However, the Arc is just one race (with some decent support races) and the Breeders' Cup only has a handful of turf races - but as those racing nations are both Tote only, their prizemoney will always be much higher. Will a finale to the season kill off all the decent level racing in the month before that meeting?

- Focus on creating Premier fixtures, with more Group 1 races on Saturdays through flat season

Of all the times of year to spread racing throughout the week, I'd have thought summer was the best time to have quality racing on more than just Saturdays. Kids are on holidays, a lot of firms take summer breaks and long summer days make great days out. Making the big meetings bigger just locks more punters out and pushes admission prices up - because racecourses are all commercial entities and will try to optimise their takings against supply and demand. Saturday should be the premier day for most of the season - but there is no harm in having decent cards of lesser Pattern racing (G3, Listed) on a Saturday because during the week, a Festival has been at Ascot, Goodwood or York. The only excuse to focus on Saturdays is if the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity all year round, and industry participants are given a day off racing - say a Monday.

- Development of idea for new team-based championship, at handicap level on summer Saturdays

Why? Who is going to be cheering for it? Team-based riding from Ballydoyle is already annoying enough.

- New premier jumps championship for which horses would be required to qualify to compete in feature races at Cheltenham Festival

The only benefit I see in this is forcing the horses who haven't been any good for years to reach a standard so they aren't dangerous in the field, or taking up a spot that could go to a better horse. That one owner from France who keeps putting his slow horses in the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup is the one I mean. This idea would need cooperation from Ireland to make it float.

- Strengthen link between Cheltenham and the Grand National meeting

Perhaps someone else could tell me what it's currently lacking? If the racecourses can agree to keep the meetings three weeks apart, does it need much else? They are very different tracks and a lot of horses will run well at one venue and not the other. And the number of Cheltenham winners who back up and win at Aintree is not high - the Festival takes a lot out of them.

These are the main ideas listed. I have some of my own, so I'm not going to just sit back and sledge these guys for having a go at a very difficult project. I'll let people digest these while I thrash out my ideas a little more and post them.

French football teams blocked by slow government reforms on betting laws

It's not just England, Australia, Spain and Italy with numerous teams wanting to wear betting company logos as their shirt sponsors this year. The French government had promised reform under the threat of sanctions from the EU, and they will... when they get around to it! Meanwhile Lyon, Marseille, Paris St-Germain and Bordeaux will be losing out financially while the government twiddles its thumbs....

Betting Sponsorship Row kicks off

Meanwhile Betfair have signed a deal as the betting partner for Man Utd. Peculiar deal that - no signage as yet, no logo on the website, it would have cost a packet and a huge percentage of United fans are in banned territories such as China and Thailand.

could NSW and Victoria finally merge pools?

Could it be? TABCorp has announced that pools for the Big6 - their poorer cousin of the UK's Scoop6 could have one pool operating by early next year.

BIG6 pools merger on the cards

About time - what's the point of having a jackpot pool if it's not the biggest you can possibly make it? It's a good move to do it, but they are still missing a trick. To get the most out of this bet type, they should package the six races up each week for free-to-air TV so it gets the maximum exposure possible.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

So who actually does pay UK tax and levy from their online activity?

William Hill - soon to channel all online business through Gibraltar
Ladbrokes - soon to channel all online business through Gibraltar
BetFred - online business goes through Gibraltar
Stan James - all business goes through Gibraltar
Victor Chandler - all business goes through Gibraltar

Paddy Power - online business goes through the Isle of Man
Boylesports - online business goes through the Isle of Man
Blue Square - all business goes through Alderney
Sportingbet - all business goes through Alderney
SkyBet - all business goes through Alderney

Betfair - all non-UK and non-exchange business goes through Malta
Jennings - online business goes through Malta

Totesport - have no choice, they are an organization created by the UK government

Bet365 - online sports betting is licensed in the UK, other products through Malta

If I have any of these wrong, please feel free to contact me and clarify.

So the headlines are deservedly hard on Hills and Ladbrokes, but they're not Robinson Crusoe in this.

The firms who do deserve your business at the moment are Coral, the Tote, Bet365, and to a lesser extent, Betfair. But what are the chances that the Racing Post, AtTheRaces, Racing UK or Channel 4 will turn down advertising from any firm not paying their 'proper' share of levy? Not much.

Members of the public have been bombarding the RacingPost with their 'brilliant' ideas in recent days. Too bad none of these people have a clue about modern economic or legal principles....

"Make it Tote betting only." - there are laws against monopolies and restricting competition.

From the same deluded individual - "Racing doesn't need bookmakers." - have you ever been to a normal race meeting (eg not the Arc or Breeders' Cup) with no bookmakers? I'd rather watch Antiques Roadshow on the BBC. It is that dull....

And again the same person - "Bookmakers need racing" - ever been into a betting shop in the last three years? Count how many punters are watching the races and compare that with the queues of people wanting to play those stupid casino machines. Racing's share of bookies' holds has been dropping for years. I think Hills said it is only 36% of their overall turnover these days - a far cry from 20 years ago when it would have been 80% at least.

"Simply block offshore sites that are not paying levy" - the EU will have something to say about that, and censorship never has worked in democratic society.

"Racing owns the product and the owners own the horses. They should collectively charge more for using the product. And football, cricket, golf etc should be encouraged to get their share too." - this bloke is obviously not a punter as it would cut out any value and enjoyment in betting full-stop when bookmakers start markets at 150% for eight-runner horse races and price an even tennis match at 1.75 each.

and then of course there is Ralph Topping and some other dinosaur moaning about Betfair and all those evil unlicensed layers. You'd think he'd have learned by now - Betfair's most effective marketing ever was when the heads of Hills and Ladbrokes complained constantly about them. When bookmakers pledge to do what they are licensed to do - lay bets - and not close punters down to ridiculous amounts, then they might have an argument. I can lay a book with Hills and Ladbrokes on every single race - I just have to cop their margins when I back every other horse in the race. Just because something is simpler does not mean it is new or illegal. Perhaps Hills would also like to go back to the 'good old days' where integrity agreements with sporting authorities were non-existent because bookies had the information and used it for their own financial gain?

But they are just modern corporations, just like those banks we hate - "we don't care about customers or the country, the only people we care about are shareholders and our bonuses."

Ladbrokes head back to Gibraltar

No surprise here, if Hills decided to go, it was 1.03 that Ladbrokes would go too, despite the Magic Sign running a big 'Bet British' campaign within the last 12 months. The website only made £55m last year so they have to run off to Gibraltar and dodge tax and levy. to relocate to Gibraltar

I can't see myself ever working for a big company again, I'm too much of an idealist. If you've read my blog for a while, you'll be aware I'm currently studying an MBA. Corporate greed really shits me. If this was a case of remaining viable, then fair enough but it has nothing to do with it. Hills and Ladbrokes are deserting the UK for, in the words of that Nationwide ad, 'have more bubbly for the shareholders'.

They're not the only ones though...

Friday, 7 August 2009

Championship preview

It all kicks off tonight. Will Middlesbrough and Newcastle follow the likes of Charlton, Leeds and Southampton into a financial mess and League 1? Will Darren Ferguson be able to keep taking Peterborough up the English system? This is a quality league and those who have just fallen out of the Premier League will find it very tough to bounce straight back, particularly if the house isn't in order.

Soccerlens provide their Championship preview. More than half of these clubs have recent Premier League experience, Roy Keane takes over at Ipswich who will want to perform in the memory of Sir Bobby Robson, QPR have got bucketloads of cash... a great season lies ahead.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

League One season preview

We're getting close to kick-off... This year League One sees Charlton, Norwich and Southampton, all Premiership clubs just five years ago, fighting it out amongst the likes of Brighton, MK Dons and the once-mighty Leeds.

Read the preview here from

Luxbet losing and ToteTas nears sale

Snippets from the Aus financial wires..

Tabcorp share assessment

Tabcorp's only NT wagering arm, Luxbet, set up to take on the likes of Centrebet and Sportsbet, isn't yet making money and the win rates aren't where they should be. But Luxbet has accrued 23,000 customers and Funke Kupper claims its brand recognition is up there with the likes of Centrebet.

Funke Kupper is taking a “fight them on the beaches” approach to customer retention, especially in wagering. “It's really important we stand in the market place,” he declares. “We will take people on, even though it's not necessarily cheap for us.”

The rumours were that Luxbet was set up with bottomless pockets in a concerted effort to take market share away from the likes of Centrebet, Sportingbet, Sportsbet, so that backs up the theory.

Tote Tasmania may sell for A$300m next month

Four companies -- Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., Tatts Group Ltd., U.K.-based Ladbrokes Plc and Greece’s Intralot SA -- are on the short-list to buy the wagering business and have entered the due diligence phase of the sale process, the newspaper reported without saying where the information came from.

No mention of Betfair there, very interesting. And eGaming Review had reported Ladbrokes to be out of the running. Surely on the lamentable performance of Intralot in Victorian lotteries recently, they can't be allowed to buy it...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Perhaps Hills should learn how to hedge

If the big guys had stopped moaning about Betfair and worried more about balancing their books by heading at better prices, the financial market would be shedding less tears...

William Hill down on its luck

Profits at the company dropped to £91.5m in the six months to 30 June, down from £111.1m a year earlier, due in part to a poor performance in horse racing. It admitted that trading has been disappointing this month, and claimed to have lost money on every major horse race in recent months, with the exception of the Grand National.

Boohoo, only £91.5m profit.

A-League season preview

Not only do the lower English leagues kick off this weekend, but also the expanded Australian competition, the thoughtfully named A-League. These games are all streamed online via Betfair and a few other UK bookies, so it's time to swot up on the form.

FoxSports expert Simon Hill's A-League Preview

New club Gold Coast United look very strong with Jason Culina and the unsung, ex-Hartlepool striker Joel Porter up front. League 1 in England is about the same standard as this competition, he will score goals.

League Two season preview

Can Sven revive Notts County out of their long slump? Does Rotherham have the title in the bag after last season's great effort despite a 17pt penalty? Can Crewe bounce-back to League 1 at the first attempt? It's tough going down in League Two this year...'s League Two season preview is a handy guide to lower-league football, particularly if you like having a accumulator across all the leagues, and dream of the jackpot of picking the winner of each league.

Betfair profits soaring

This will please all the folks paying the premium charge...

Betfair set fair for a float

The odds shortened today on a flotation of Betfair after the world's largest betting exchange reported soaring revenues and profits.

In stark contrast to the falling business in the High Street bookmakers as witnessed yesterday by a profit warning from William Hill, Betfair today reported revenues of £303 million in the year to the end of April, up 27% year on year and double where they were three years ago.

Without seeing the annual report, I'm guessing a big chunk of those increased profits come from the casino. They certainly won't be coming from the dreadful poker application, and while the exchange continues to move forward, it is now very mature, although international volume continues to grow. Oh, and of course, there was a major football tournament (Euro 2008) last year which always helps.

A float has always been on the cards, it has just been a matter of when. They will wait patiently until the market is strong again before going to the market. It's not like they need to, they have huge cash reserves, they just have to offer a buy-out option later this year when the next ronud of staff options mature.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Blue Square Premier season preview

This weekend ahead is the one I look forward to most in football - the expectation of are those recruits any good or a complete waste of money? Which team has flown under the radar and which manager just doesn't have a bloody clue? And the Football Leagues rathe than the Premier League hold much more excitement for me, far fewer overpaid diving prats.. is posting a series of season previews for all the leagues this week, here's the first for the old Conference, the Blue Square Premier League which we won't see on TV this season due to the demise of Setanta Sports.

I follow this league with some interest, being a member of the fans conglomerate which is Ebbsfleet FC - it could be a long season ahead.

William Hill heading offshore

It will be announced today that internet operations of one of Britain's biggest bookmakers are being switched to Gibraltar in a measure to reduce tax paid from their financial statements. This will not go down well with the UK government who will lose out on a lot of tax revenue, nor the British racing industry which may suffer a significant reduction in levy payments. And if Hills go, will Ladbrokes do the same? Or Coral, or Betfair....?

Odds shorten on William Hill move offshore

Looks like a rather big loaded gun is being pointed at the Chancellor demanding change in taxation rates...

Victor Chandler enters the world of team sponsorship

Missed this announcement two weeks ago, Victor Chandler have become shirt sponsors of Nottingham Forest in the Championship. Good to see them supporting the sport desptie being based in Gibraltar, reminding us that it's not all about the Premier League.

Forest announce Victor Chandler deal

That makes a lot of bookmakers sponsoring football these days. Austrian minnow sponsored the Emirates Cup at Arsenal over the weekend, doubt they could afford anything during the season!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Racing NSW rhetoric completely ignores the key participant

Racing NSW are at it again, whipping up hysteria over the real world having changed from those wonderful old days when their mates in government could ban any rivals to their monopoly. Chairman Alan Brown addressed a meeting last Friday about concerns over the funding of racing in NSW. You can read his address here. He babbles on about paying for racing, how the corporate bookies and Betfair have changed things around etc... not once does he mention that the monopoly he is trying to support is now a privatised company working first and foremost for its shareholders. Not once does he mention that perhaps its time the punter got a fairer deal instead of being constantly shafted by that monopoly for the best part of a generation.

The world has changed. Margins for EVERY business and industry in the world have tightened. Monopolies are being outlawed by governments worldwide. Organisations who waste millions on ridiculous legal fees or because they are too stubborn to merge for the improvement of the industry as a whole deserve a major kick up the clacker. Time to catch up with the real world and learn how competition drives efficiency and better services for the end consumer, the poor old punter, who is the one who funds racing, and is always ignored in these campaigns.

The breeders at the top end of the industry invariably do well out of the sport - all their success comes from racing, the results are the ones that set the prices for their stallion fees. How much exactly do they put in to be able to reap the end rewards?