Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Bwin going after the FA Cup?

Changes occurring in the sponsorship of English competitions with E.ON ending their FA Cup deal and Coca-Cola not renewing their six-year sponsorship of the Football Leagues.

Football League seeking new sponsor


But the key part for me was right at the tail....

E.ON is ending its sponsorship deal with the FA Cup at the end of the season. E.ON's four-year deal was understood to be worth £32 million, which English football's governing body will be keen to recoup.

Betting firm bwin has been linked with the FA Cup title sponsorship and the Austrian company has made it known to the FA that it would consider a bid to replace E.ON.


Very interesting!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

change of pace

Apologies for the lack of posting this last week, but have had all my time diverted to my lovely new baby daughter, born 21/9. Life has changed forever :)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Morning racing at Kempton

Short article in today's Racing Post about Kempton and Channel 4 discussing Saturday morning racing, as early as 8.40am to coincide with the Morning Line programme.

What do you think? I can't see the harm in trying. Obviously it won't be for everyone and I doubt you'll see any Group races, but that's much as the same as Wednesday night on the polytrack anyway. Betting shops are open, a lot of folks are up and about at that hour and it might even be easier in traffic around that area. And industry people are up ridiculously early anyway.

It might crash and burn, it might prove a master stroke - either way I think it's worth a go especially if there is terrestrial TV coverage behind it. Being able to spend the night before looking at a proper formguide (as is the norm back in Australia) is a huge plus from me.

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Is betting really to blame for all the corruption in sport?

In the light of the Renault scandal in Formula 1, Bloodgate in rugby union, and football scandals such as the one Juventus was relegated for in Serie A, is it too easy for sporting authorities to blame gambling for all its integrity problems?

Fair enough, there are obviously some issues with it, but ever since there has been a prize for winning a competition, people have found devious ways to win, or stop others from winning. Look at scandals in kids' beauty pageants, flower growing contests, elections, tanking for better draft picks etc - where someone has something to gain, cheating will never be far away. And that's without even discussing drugs in sport.

Biggest threat to Sports Integrity comes from within


While no one can argue that manipulation of sports by betting syndicates does not exist, the reality is that the most concerted efforts at manipulation are made by criminal elements via illegal bookmakers, and not as it is suggested, by online gamblers who in the majority bet for relatively small stakes through regulated bookmakers.

Sport has becoming an increasingly lucrative business as demonstrated by the salaries of the top sports people. In football for instance, the combined salaries of the top three highest paid players amounts to an incredible €80 million.

With such lucrative compensation packages on offer to sports people, and equally lucrative opportunities existing for the teams, it is little wonder that those at the pinnacle of sports are willing to do anything necessary to win a slice of the financial pie, from theatrical diving in football to life threatening choreographed crashes in Formula 1.

The most recent scandals in sport boil down to the issue of money, but it is not gambling money that causes these actions. The actions of certain teams and players that have recently caught the international headlines are planned and executed from within in order to manipulate referees and the situation at hand in their favour, thereby securing their interests in an increasingly lucrative industry.



Sports need to get their own houses in order first before they can apportion all of the blame on the gambling industry. And it is very rare that legalised, regulated gambling is the source of the problem - after all, bookies are there to win money and minimise risk. The first sign of something being fishy and alarm bells ring worldwide...

Friday, 18 September 2009

if you're going to sign a bookmaker as sponsor, at least check they are licensed

Cardiff City FC showed that wisdom and commercial acumen aren't amongst their fortes with this deal.

Unlicensed 777Ball Told to Suspend Football Sponsorship

Days after signing a one-year shirt sponsorship agreement with 777ball.com, Football League Championship side Cardiff City FC has been forced to remove its sponsor's logo from shirts, after the Gambling Commission warned that the Asian online gaming operator had not obtained a UK operating licence which would enable it to advertise in the country.

Has anyone ever heard of them? Apparently they have a licence in the Philippines, in the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corporation. They don't have a UK licence and the Philippines isn't a country of the UK Gambling Commission's White List of territories outside the European Union, implying naivety at its best from both the club and the bookmaker.

The bookmaker says it will now apply for the relevant licence - good luck getting that before next season then!

Karma in sport

Am I the only one that casts a wry smile over these types of incidents?

- Flavio Briatore has to fall on his sword when sacked driver Nelson Piquet Jr gets his own back by blowing the whistle on being instructed to crash in the Singapore Grand Prix last year to help his team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race. After initial denials and threats of lawsuits, a newspaper gets hold of the transcripts and suddenly the facts come out....

- Serena Williams getting a point penalty for threatening an official at the US Open and thus losing the match. Not just any match, but a Grand Slam semi-final. Had she not destroyed a racuet earlier in the match, she may have even got away with it. Whether the line judge was correct or not with the call(I still haven't seen any camera angle which proves it either way), no sporting official should ever be threatened like that, and she should have been defaulted for that alone. Using American sport as an example, she'd have been suspended for months if she tried that in the NFL or NBA.

- Kieren Fallon getting mighty lucky when the Metropolitan Police could not prove the race-fixing case despite the weight of evidence, then getting suspended days later for testing positive to cocaine again in France.

Karma is a wonderful thing, it helps me sleep at night....

Any other classic examples people can recall?

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Paddy Power face the wrath over 'next player to be burgled' market!

Of all the markets that could as bad taste, surely this takes the cake. Paddy Power were taking bets on which Anfield footballer would be burgled next. As if you need to provide incentives for Scouser criminals!

Liverpool condemn Paddy Power bets on player burglaries

After furious protests from fans and Liverpool FC, Paddy Power initially defended the bets as "tongue-in-cheek fun", but the online bookmaker has now agreed to suspend betting.

On Wednesday a Liverpool spokesperson described the bookmaker's stunt as "completely tasteless and disgraceful."



Bear in mind here, that Paddy Power were the official betting partner of Liverpool FC as well. Until today that is, when their agreement expires with a sour conclusion. It is believed that Betfair will be taking over 'official betting partner' status, adding to their blue-chip partners of Barcelona and Manchester United, all signed this season.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Betfair in trouble for 'encouraging' underage gambling

Betfair love promoting their young sponsored poker stars - the only problem is, when one of them has an online handle of 'Annette_15', it's very easy to look upon her as being underage, or at least the company is encouraging underage gambling.

Betting ad banned for encouraging underage gambling

Seriously, you'd thought someone would have been able to figure that one out in-house without needing to be embarrassed by it. The username is a giveaway and she doesn't exactly look 30 in that photo. Drop the reference to the username and the ad is probably fine. It can always be referenced elsewhere on the site, rather than in the part answerable to strict advertising standards.

The story goes that soon-to-be 21yo Annette Obrestad, winner of the World Series of Poker Europe 2007, when she had just turned 19, began playing poker online when she was just 15 - not at Betfair I care to add. She played only play for fun events (which still should have been prohibited as a minor), but was so good at it, she never had to make a deposit and was eventually able to cash a sizeable sum onto real money sites when she was old enough to play for money.

It was when she got down to the final table at WSOPE 2007 that Betfair stepped in and signed her up as a sponsored player. Due to American law, it will be another two years before she can head to Las Vegas for the regular World Series of Poker.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

common sense prevails for now in Aus jockeys dispute

The stubborn Australian Racing Board and the Australian Jockeys' Association went head-to-head over the changes to the whip rules brought in on August 1 in Australia. Jockeys were rightfully frustrated about a major change to the rule which would bring about a suspension for them if they used the whip too many times in the closing stages, trying to win the race, yet the result wouldn't be overturned - so they'd be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Jockeys walked out across Australia last Thursday, stopping several race meetings during the day, and threatened further action. The spring carnival was never realistically under threat, but the jockeys wanted the issue sorted out before the big stakes were on the table.

Jockeys, ARB reach whip compromise

My query is, in six or so seconds that it takes for the last 100m, how many times more could a jockey whip a horse anyway?

Monday, 14 September 2009

ToteTasmania sale going nowhere for now


Betfair, Ladbrokes, TABCorp and others have all pulled out or had offers rejected. What happens now? The price did seem a bit rich given the current economic climate, and particularly the changing wagering landscape in Australia.

Tote Tasmania's sale plan in turmoil


The Tasmanian Government may float the state’s Tote on the stock market after failing to find a buyer during a protracted bidding process.

In a statement, Treasurer Michael Aird said two binding formal bids received when the window for formal tenders closed last week did not value Tote Tasmania at a “fair and reasonable” price.

However, he insisted the sales process would continue on the open market and could possibly involve a public float.

He said abandoning the private bidding process after months of haggling sent a message that the Tote would not be sold cheaply.



Do they hold their cards, hoping that changing legislation works in their favour so they can achieve that sale price eventually, or do they need to get a move on before any value they have is eroded by further deregulation of the Australian market?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

robber with a conscience gives bookie his money back

Bizarre story this - an 80yo Melbourne racecourse bookmaker was robbed at the end of a fairly busy raceday at Flemington. But the robber then had a guilt trip and gave most of the money back!

Guilt beats greed after not-so-great bookie robbery

NSW TAB to be allowed to catch up with the rest of the world... at least in some areas

The 'independent review of wagering policy and regulation' (are these things ever genuinely independent anymore?), the Cameron Report, made many recommendations for changes to the NSW wagering industry and policy. The NSW govt has taken its time, but has finally come back with some changes which might actually be a positive move for the punting public.

Cameron Report - Fixed-odds breakthrough for NSW

Recommendations adopted include:

• pursuing a national co-ordinated approach to the regulation and taxation of wagering;

• allowing the NSW TAB to offer fixed odds betting on all races through its account betting network on the phone and internet;

• after further consultation and support of the industry, NSW bookmakers will be permitted to accept bets at racecourses using the internet or telephone on a 24/7 basis, as in Victoria;

• not permitting betting on reality TV shows, economic events and the like;

• prohibiting off-course retail bookmaking kiosks; and

• giving in-principle support for NSWTAB to pool with other Australian totalizators.



Still a bit misguided. Allowing the TAB to offer fixed-odds markets on all races will move turnover from pool betting (of which the industry gets a guaranteed share) to fixed-odds (which the TAB only pays a percentage to the industry on net profit). Not betting on reality TV and economic markets misses out on a big area of growth - times have changed, it's not just racing and footy anymore.

At least they might finally move forward on co-pooling with Victoria after years of stalemate. If not on the win & place pools where some punters prefer variation rather than pool strength, at least on the exotics, to ensure big pools.

UPDATE - The bookies aren't happy and Peter V'Landys chips in to show, yet again, that he doesn't have a bloody clue...

Bookies still unhappy despite reforms

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

now the poker sites have to chase the fish too..

Even Betfair has to go after a constant stream of smaller players so that the big punters don't dominate the liquidity.

Bring in the fish or pay fines, Boss Media tells licensees

BOSS MEDIA HAS introduced fines for poker network licencees that rely too heavily on rakeback and don’t bring in enough casual losing poker players, or ‘fish’.

Rakeback has always been a controversial issue in poker; will this start a trend? Boss Media is one of the bigger poker networks online, how will their competitors react in the coming months?

Aussie bookie goes bust... or just gets bored?

Rumours abound this morning about the demise of RacingOdds (.com.au), the bookmaking arm of leviathan, or should it be big-mouth, Australian punter Sean Bartholomew. The website has disappeared (although other Aus firms have recently been subject to DDoS attacks and are still having issues), but there have been grave doubts about the longevity of this business for a while, with the proprietor believed to have been looking for a buyer for some time. If it is just hacker problems, then it's poor publicity for the company not to immediately send out emails to all clients reassuring them the firm is still operating, as Sportingbet and Sportsbet did last month.

Punter funds will be safe - that's the benefit of the tight licensing laws in Australia. Each bookmaker puts up a hefty security bond with their licensing authority, to be distributed to punters in the event of financial insolvency.

It is quite possible that Bartholomew has simply given up on an unviable business and closed the doors rather than bleed to death. He is also a massive punter; if more time was being spent punting (as per the old days) rather than taking bets because of a small client base, then what's the point of paying for a licence? Note - there is nothing wrong at all with bookies being punters, so long as they aren't playing with client funds. The new breed of Australian pro-active bookmakers means taking the best prices elsewhere, doing your own form, using information gained from clients - winning punter A is very good on this sport, so let him have his bet, cut the price and back that selection elsewhere for the hose, and taking risks. Wouldn't you rather that than the stale UK method of cutting everyone back to a fiver after you land a few winners??

Their prices were almost all cloned from other sources, after all the hoopla and propaganda about 'we will not close any punter down' they became the fastest trigger in Australia to shut people down, and they didn't have the resources of the big corporates to spend the big $$ required to reach the recreational punters based in the rest of Australia. Just because he got his mug on the spring racing carnival coverage a few times blowing his own trumpet didn't mean punters were going to flock to him. The bookmaking industry is full of egos, and in times when there are endless choices for where to bet, they turn most people off....

Bookmaking is not an easy game - and this business plan was doomed to fail. Winning punters do not make winning bookmakers, and even then big Sean was rumoured to have gone bust as a punter at least once as well. Sometimes it just takes a wise man to walk away - exactly what has happened will no doubt surface soon enough...

UPDATE - Racingodds.com.au has been sold to Matthew Tripp's Sportsbet (51% owned by PaddyPower).

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

so is the EU open for trading or not?

Very interesting development here - after the legal battles in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden, particularly involving Betfair, Bwin, Ladbrokes and Stanley International, it seemed that the European Union was forcing the hand of member states to allow free trading across borders for all gambling companies, particularly bookmakers, licensed within the EU. Does this ruling in Portugal open the door for governments to protect their monopolies in the name of fraud and crime prevention?

Bwin Loses EU Court Challenge to Portuguese Gambling Monopoly

Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, an online bookmaker, lost a challenge to Portugal’s sports- betting monopoly after a European Union court said gambling restrictions are legal as long as they target fraud and crime.

Bwin had challenged Portugal’s national gambling monopoly and its extension to online wagering. The ruling today by the European Court of Justice could affect other pending cases including a suit by Ladbrokes Plc against the Netherlands.

The EU’s highest court said restrictions such as in Portugal may be justified to meet certain policy goals, including the fight against crime, as long as they aren’t discriminatory and don’t go beyond what is necessary to achieve their aim. Bwin fell as much as 9.5 percent after the ruling.

...

The lack of harmonized EU rules on games of chance means that the region’s countries “are free to set the objectives of their policy in that area,” as long as they meet certain conditions, the court ruled.



Very interesting, who knows where this might end up...


UPDATE - Bwin responds to ECJ judgment - EU law has not kept pace with internet

the dangers of bookmakers owning tracks

There's a piece in Monday's Racing Post about how a stalwart of the greyhound industry had given up betting on the sport because of the actions of the selfish owners. Bookmakers, notably Ladbrokes (and I assume Corals as well), who own varios greyhound tracks in the UK have stopped webcasting from certain tracks and blocked the tracks from selling race replay DVDs to punters. So the only way you can see a race is if you go to the track or you're a mug in the betting shop. Bookies cut out anyone with an ambition of winning a bet by doing some homework, protect their margins and the industry goes down the tube with backward evolution.

In contrast, the Irish Greyhound Board (note, a united front for the industry nationwide) has announced that every race replay will be available on its website the day after the meeting, for free (initially). Little wonder in Ireland the industry is reasonably healthy and in the UK it is dying off.

The same could be said for privately-owned racetracks in the US where companies have no other intention than making a buck out of them now. The punter loses out, the industry loses out and the sport goes backward, while slot machines from wall-to-wall keep the company afloat. Obvious solution but you can never wind the clock back and have the industry or government retain all the tracks as Crown land..

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Bwin moves into Italian poker

Following on from their sponsorship of AC Milan, Bwin are getting aggressive in Italy, this time in poker.

Bwin eyes Gioco Digitale deal in Italy

Gioco Digitale came to prominence when it swiftly took the number one spot in the burgeoning Italian tournament poker market after it opened up for business late last year.


If you've never heard of Gioco Digitale like me, here's a look at their rather flash looking blog site.

Racing NSW trying more underhanded tactics

If ever there was a body that needs to be held accountable for its incompetence in trying to fight legal battles, it is Racing NSW. Take a look at this shambles.

Sneaky Changes to Race Field Conditions

Seriously, V'Landys, if you ever get a job again in the industry after this (assuming the NSW govt have the balls to boot you when it all comes crashing down in November), we are all doomed.

Friday, 4 September 2009

domestic rugby starts this weekend

Bored with the round-ball game yet? The Guinness Premiership and Magner's League rugby competitions start this weekend. Anyone would think rugby players and fans like a drink :)

As a sport which is popular but not rammed down your throat by every form of media, there is plenty of value available in trading and if you do your homework.

Here are some previews for the new season:

Guinness Premiership club-by-club

Guinness Premiership season preview

The experts have their say

GP preview 2009-10

Betfair trading on rugby, domestic rugby in particular, is very different to the rather simple methods on football. As the scoring system varies (try, conversion, penalty,and drop goal), field position counts for plenty, and most crucially, there is no market suspension when a team scores, you have to be on your own toes. But if making things a little more difficult makes it easier for those who do the hard work to make a profit, then so be it. With lower volumes traded, it makes it easier to get a better return on your trading, unless you want to bet in thousands.

Hopefully my mate Rugby Ken will relaunch his blog (Magners League, Heineken Cup and Six Nations), he was nicely in front last season. Look for it in my blogroll to the right.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

how to lose money even when you have a licence to print it

You'd think running a tote business in a region with a strong racing product, plenty of retail outlets and high margins would mean large, guaranteed profits. Apparently not.

Off-track betting under fire for vehicle fleet

The betting operation, which is heavily indebted and government-controlled, has come under scrutiny by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, for having a fleet of 87 vehicles at its disposal, according to an article in The New York Times on Tuesday. The vehicles cost an average of $6,700 each to operate every year.


...

The betting parlors are floundering in fiscal mismanagement. Last year, they recorded a deficit of $17.8 million, despite handling $1 billion in wagers. On Tuesday, Governor David A. Paterson issued an executive order authorizing OTB to file for bankruptcy protection.


What the ....? 87 company cars around one of the world's most traffic unfriendly cities? Get on the bloody subway! Have they ever thought of looking at how similar businesses around the world make huge profits? Sure they don't control racing like TABcorp or the HKJC, but even the relatively-lame UK Tote makes considerable profit each year, and it has to face tough competition.

Not sure of the funding relationships in the USA and specifically, New York. Does this affect funding for the NYRA?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Melbourne Cup weights released

This is an important day for Australian racing, the day when the weights are released for all the big spring feature races. Melbourne Cup weights are headed by 2007 Cup winner Efficient and 2008 Cox Plate winner Maldivian on 58kg, followed by last year's winner Viewed and two Godolphin entries, Eastern Anthem and Schiaparelli on 57kg.

Other notable foreign entries are Kirklees (Godoplhin) 57kg; Cima de Triomphe (Cumani) 55.5kg; Doctor Fremantle (Stoute) and Macarthur (de Kock) 55kg; Mourilyan (Moore) 54.5kg; Age of Reason (Godoplhin), King of Rome (de Kock), Scintillo (Hannon) 54kg; Askar Tau (Tregoning) and Profound Beauty (Weld) 53.5kg; Singapore champion mare Jolie's Shinju 52.5; Friston Forest (Godolphin) 52kg; Basaltico (Cumani) 51.5kg; Age of Aquarius (O'Brien) 51kg; Changingoftheguard (O'Brien) 50.5kg.

First acceptances are taken next Tuesday.

Click here for the full list of VRC spring feature weights