Saturday, 31 October 2009

Why Racing for Change has work to do

Today at Wetherby, leading jockey Barry Geraghty took the wrong course on 9-4 favourite My Petra when leading and was instantly out of the race. His negligent actions cost punters hundreds of thousands of pounds. Nothing against the guy, he is a class act and threw his hands up to admit his guilt, but for the stewards to only give him a 12-day suspension shows just how little respect the industry has for itself and its patrons.

Booed as he returned the paddock, Geraghty said: "I walked the track earlier on and I was well aware of it..."

It wasn't as if he was riding on the track for the first time. It is a jockey's responsibility to know where he is supposed to go. Actions which cause punters to do their dough cold deserve harsh penalties. Remember Roger Loughran on Central House? Similarly the judge Jane Stickels and anyone like her should be either banned from the sport or forced to perform cross-checks every time (like people in most jobs) before declaring results which cost punters and bookies plenty. And lastly, the track staff at Wetherby? What were they doing? How hard is it to set up cones across the track to help jockeys concentrate on what they are supposed to do? It's not rocket science and any other profession have every possible incidence of ambiguity ruled out as a matter of occupational health & safety.

Racing is effectively a medium for investment from individuals. If Geraghty was the CEO of a company who robbed its shareholders blind, he would expect to face criminal charges. That might be a bit harsh in this case but racing is a billion-pound industry and needs to treat itself as one. People invest vast sums in the stock market because it is heavily regulated. Punters invest millions every day on horses, only for amateur decisions to add to the natural randomness of results. Punting is not taken seriously as a profession, this doesn't help their case in trying to change that.

Blunders caused by negligence are avoidable, maybe not every single one but the majority can be prevented. But it will only happen when the industry gets serious about stamping it out, and it applies to everyone in the industry.

Want respect? Do it properly!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Thoroughbred Racing SA kicking goals at the right end, unlike Racing NSW

Good article here from Bill Saunders, describing how South Australian racing is moving forward (granted, it was in rather poor shape) by rolling the sleeves up and dealing with the modern age, rather than trying to stick to believing in a Flat Earth like their counterparts in New South Wales.

South Australia Shows How It's Done

Long considered a basket case by the rest of Australian racing, South Australia is suddenly showing strong growth from a combination of embracing non-TAB wagering operators, government taxation reform and self help from rationalisation of resources and cost cutting.

The net result is a stunning year to year turnaround in performance by TRSA, from a loss of $2.1 million in 2007-08 to a profit of nearly $6.8 million in 2008-09.

By far the biggest factor in the improved performance was race field contributions from the bookmaking sector, which boosted gross revenue for TRSA by $9.2 million for the 9 months of the year that the contribution was paid.

After paying other racing jurisdictions for the use of their product, TRSA netted $5 million from the new levy. Giving the lie to suggestions that competition from the non-TAB sector would decimate TAB contributions, Unitab's funding also increased - up by more than $2 million.

Add in a further $2.7 million from wagering tax relief provided by the South Australian state government and its easy to see how gross revenue for TRSA increased by nearly 40% year on year from $29.1 million to $40.6 million.


Wow, the wonders of negotiation in business rather than tyrannical control....

Similarly, in the UK, the dispute over pitch positions for bookmakers has been resolved through negotiation at Towcester Racecourse, the only course which is not a member of the Racecourse Association. Towcester has moved to mostly free admission racedays, and thus needed to move to different funding models, and also to charge bookies (who usually pay a fee of five times the admission cost).

The pigheadedness of so many people in the racing industry is what holds it back from moving with the times. It could be worse, it could be a basket case with 50 different states and sets of rules like the US.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

most blatant case of match-fixing ever!



On the last day of the season, Brazilian club Viana were going for the Maranhão State League championship. With rivals Moto Club also banging in the goals in a 5-1 win, there is some suggestion Viana might have got a helping hand with their late goal glut.

Nine goals in nine minutes!

Needing to win 11-0 to clinch promotion from the Second Division, Viana found themselves leading Chapadinha by just 2-0 with 81 minutes played. A bit of fatigue might have been setting in, of course, but surely not enough to see them ship nine goals in the final nine minutes!

Blimey, even Hull defend better than this...

Vegas bookies crying poor

Ever thought of doing something different and creating your own lines, rather than just blindly following what everyone else does?

Bookmakers living a nightmare in Vegas

Favourites winning all the games, bookies crying. Similar thing happened early in the EPL, then it all turned around. Much harder to do that when only betting point-spreads though.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Victorian racing allows corporate bookies on the rails

This might seem second nature in the UK but it's a new development in Australia. On-course bookies had to be just that, and while recent law changes had allowed local bookmakers to form companies and trade 24/7, that was only if they were on track within that state. Now Victoria has allowed Centrebet, Sportsbet, and the big one, TABCorp trading as TAB Sportsbet, to work on the rails. Bit controversial they have been allowed to queue jump and not be subject to the normal procedures of Victorian bookies during spring carnival time, but it's hardly surprising.

TABCorp goes on the rails


TABCORP will join the Flemington rails as an on-course bookie for the first time on Derby Day.

Tabcorp has won approval from the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation to short-circuit Victoria Bookmakers' Association rules to gain a rails berth.


Derby Day, this Saturday at Flemington, is the best day of domestic racing anywhere in the world. Quality from start to finish, and over 100,000 attending the course. Coverage on AtTheRaces and races streamed on Betfair LiveVideo.

Betfair targets India for expansion

It's a natural fit for Betfair to get into India. Cricket betting is enormous and local bookies are mostly traders, offering a buy and sell price with each quote. Legalising betting in the country is the next step, and the most logical way to crack down on illegal, unlicensed betting, the most common route for corruption.

Indian law means foreign companies must partner with local firms to do business there, in any industry.

Betfair and William Hill target India

Britain's biggest betting companies are bidding for the first online gambling licence in India to gain a slice of the country's $60bn (£37bn) betting market. The high-street bookie William Hill, along with internet players Betfair and Bwin, are bidding for the internet licence in the Himalayan state of Sikkim in early September. A decision is expected in the next two weeks.

Some 13 betting companies, including local Indian operators, are battling it out for at least three licences in Sikkim. Sources said they want their betting services live from April 2010 – in time for the football World Cup in South Africa.


The query really is how will other Indian states react? Will cross-border betting be permitted, ignored or criminalised? It is hard to imagine a nation so vast and diverse as India will let online gambling go unchecked, without some states queueing up to follow Sikkim in granting licences, and others vocal in their opposition to it.

If and when it does happen, watch for cricket trading volumes on Betfair (if it gains one of the licences) to explode.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

bizarre tennis result caught up in match-fix allegations because of coaching policy

Weird match this.

Tennis authorities looking into Wozniacki match

US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki led 7-5 5-0 against local veteran Anne Kremer in a round one match on Tuesday. She was battling with a hamstring injury which she knew she wouldn't be able to play with in the next round (these things almost always get worse once the athlete has cooled down and tries to play again). During the coaching breaks which are allowed in the WTA, her father, speaking in Polish was clearly telling her to retire because she wouldn't play the next round anyway. I applaud her father for doing that - firstly, it's to save her from further injury and secondly, it gave a local player, who will probably retire soon, the chance to play in R2 instead of having that match given as a walkover. There is honour in that approach in my opinion.

But because the rules say that microphones must be able to pick up what is said during coaching breaks, sharp viewers who can understand Polish would have picked up on what was said and cashed in by laying her at a very short price. Wozniacki is Danish by nationality but Polish by birth and it's well known in tennis circles that she speaks to her father in their native tongue.

I don't see how she could be charged for 'lack of effort' in the match as per the article. She wouldn't stop trying, her dad had to stop her for her own benefit!

Unfortunate more than anything, I don't think there is anything sinister in this at all, other than her dad being caught out by the WTA's open-mic policy. If there's a suspicious WTA match they want to investigate, try the Vinci - K.Bondarenko match from Tuesday. The betting on that match told the story...

Betfair sign deal with Breeders' Cup to link pools and more

Betfair's link into US pools finally begins with the peak meeting of the year.

Betfair, Breeders’ Cup reach deal on wagering revenue

Now if they could just start slapping the US tracks around on some of their exorbitant takeout rates, the interest in American racing would soar....

on closer inspection, it's both feet in the mouth for V'Landys

Hyprocritical muppet. I'll leave it at that.


Productivity Commission Gambling Report Represents Community View


from Racing NSW CEO Peter V'Landys:

"The Productivity Commission allowed presentations from a myriad of wagering operators but at no time sought to provide Racing NSW with the opportunity to make a presentation on behalf of its 50,000 participants."

V'Landys fails to point out that Racing NSW did in fact make a submission, which was mostly ignored, much to his chagrin.

In terms of poetic justice he might like to reflect on the very limited consultation process that Racing NSW engaged in when formulating its race fields strategy. Submissions were not considered from any wagering operator other than TabCorp and the one provided by Betfair was ignored.


...

Racing NSW is furious that any party would want to dictate what it should charge for its racing, saying:

"The two most ridiculous recommendations are that an independent organisation set the price of that racing product. Does that mean every commercial operation in Australia could have its price set by someone other than themselves - which could send them broke?"

Given that Racing NSW is currently charging double the amount of Victoria for roughly half the quality of racing suggests that its high time that control of such pricing be placed in the hands of an independent body before Racing NSW sends itself broke.


Only a month to go before he gets laughed at in court, andhopefully silenced forever. I wonder how many moronic rants we will hear before then.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Racing NSW locked in a time warp

Is it really 1973 in Sydney, or just in the ivory towers that Peter V'Landys lives in? The guy is that out-of-touch with his thinking that he surely still believes the world is flat.

Yesterday the Australian Federal Government Productivity Commission released a report into the gambling industry in Australia. It delved deeply into problem gambling, advertising laws, online operations at home and abroad, hypocrisy of racing authorities and TABs, and all the other related issues. From what I've read, and there are 630 pages of it, it appears to be quite a balanced report. It outlines how the world has changed, how competition improves businesses and for the end consumer. It outlines how the ban on online casinos for Australians was a waste of time. And many other stories. If you fancy a few days of bedtime reading, you can download it here.

Naturally, the muppet in charge at Racing NSW has come out and slaughtered it because the researchers actually believe in life after black and white TV.

Lame argument trying to justify the stance of Racing NSW

The Australian's response with quotes from King Muppet and Betfair's Andrew Twaits:

Gambling on the future

V'landys argues that taxation on turnover is easier to administer across a number of betting operators who offer different types of wagering.

"It is the most competitively-neutral method of applying the fee," he said.


There's no neutrality in Racing NSW's case. They want to price every competitor of their bed partner TABCorp out of the market.

And they have a very cosy deal, signed by some idiot in the past, whereby TABCorp actually pay the fees to interstate racing bodies because NSW is actually a net importer of racing product. The racing is so poor in Sydney (specifically because of continually small fields and shoddily prepared tracks which can't stand up to overracing) that NSW residents see bit to bet more on the other states than they do on their own home product. Sure it has its good days, but overall the quality doesn't stand up. Punters do not bet anywhere near as much on regular fields of five or six horses - except on Betfair.. perhaps they should do a deal? ;)

Victoria continue to attract the best administrators in the business, with the Western Australian Turf Club's chief executive Alasdair Robertson taking over at the Melbourne Racing Club from the start of 2010. Perth racing has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years. Meanwhile NSW continue to bicker over selling tracks, desperately needed club mergers and the whole ship is controlled by a muppet.

Will November 16 be the date for the final nail in his coffin, when Racing NSW get laughed out of court in the case against Betfair and Sportsbet over the racefields fee legislation? Or will he not be held accountable for his moronic rants and lack of understanding of modern business and law?

Monday, 19 October 2009

a revolution is brewing in tote betting

News this morning that the New Zealand Racing Board, which controls the NZ TAB, has signed a deal with Australian based software company, Media and Gaming, developer of Typhoon Pools, to deliver its new totalisator betting platform. Most totalisator and pari-mutuel platforms are old technology, locked into maximum size fields (Aus TABs), slow calculation of dividends (UK Tote), problems with co-mingling and dividend displays (US)etc. This announcement could signal the first radical change to tote betting systems in many years.

NZ Racing selects Typhoon Betting platform

“Tote operations throughout the world run on legacy systems that do not enable them to compete against more technologically advanced gaming enterprises. This is holding racing back in its attempts to match other forms of global entertainment,” said Nicholas Plowman, MD of Media & Gaming. “TyphoonÒ goes a long way to solving these problems.”

Mr. Plowman identified several key advantages of the new TyphoonÒ betting system.

* TyphoonÒ is significantly cheaper to acquire, operate and maintain.
* TyphoonÒ is extremely fast, secure and reliable.
* TyphoonÒ is capable of handling an unlimited number of contestants, events, pools and customer accounts.
* TyphoonÒ runs 24/7
* TyphoonÒ handles multi-language and multi-currency international co-mingling.
* TyphoonÒ provides an improved ability to manage problem gambling issues through greater real-time visibility and reporting.
* TyphoonÒ will enhance an organisation’s existing products and introduce new products in a fast and efficient process.

Andrew Brown, Chief Executive of NZRB, said: “As part of our modernisation strategy, the NZRB conducted a worldwide search for the most efficient and reliable betting platform and TyphoonÒ was selected as the best and most cost-effective option.


Further comment here from Bill Saunders

Typhoon Blows Away the Opposition

Most totalisator operators worldwide have handled the transition to internet wagering very poorly. Early attempts simulated the activities of telephone operators keying bets called to them over the phone, taking little advantage of the benefits that internet operation provided.

...

Racing administrators worldwide recognise and encourage the commingling of wagering pools as a way of attracting bigger punters and international interest in their racing.

Given that they have a common obsession with wagering as the major source of funding their operations, it seems odd that the racing industry is prepared to tolerate partnerships with wagering operators whose systems are so primitive.

The combination of poor wagering systems and entrenched monopolies such at TabCorp which have no incentive to upgrade means that the racing industry is stuck with a glacial rate of change for any wagering innovation.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Brazilian F1 preview

More rain forecast and a pair of drivers on the front row with terrible records at the track. You can read my race preview here.

Friday, 16 October 2009

more Aus racing to be shown in UK & Ireland via Betfair

Wow, I thought I'd see hell freeze over first but Betfair have successfully negotiated with Sky Racing to bring live Australian Racing to customers in the UK & Ireland, in addition to Melbourne Cup Day (where the broadcast rights are held by another network).

Streaming Deal

Just a day after announcing a deal with the VRC to stream Flemington meetings to Betfair customers on its wagering website, Betfair's chief executive Andrew Twaits yesterday revealed the betting giant had also agreed a deal with Sky Racing to cover the spring carnival.

Twaits said the deal would enable up to 1.4 million Betfair customers in Ireland and Britain to see the best of the Melbourne spring carnival racing. It allows Betfair to have live streaming of today's Caulfield Cup meeting, the Cox Plate meeting next Saturday, three days of the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington and the Sandown Classic from Betfair Park on November 14.


If you're interested in trading on it, the fastest audio feed from Aus is SkySportsRadio, appears to be about one second behind the Betfair suspension which is pretty good. So you can compare the broadcast latency between market, audio and pics.

The streaming of these races is available to watch for free to logged-in Betfair customers with funds in their Betfair wallet.

And if you're interested in tonight's big race, the Caulfield Cup, run at 0605 UKT, here's an excellent preview from another site. It's not mine, but I do agree with his top selections.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Betfair to broadcast Melbourne Cup on site

Hooray, we won't have to put up with the depressing John Berry on AtTheRaces all night!

Betfair to market Melbourne Cup overseas

Betfair and the VRC today announced a landmark agreement that will see the VRC's Melbourne Cup Day races streamed online to Betfair's overseas customer base of over 3 million people.

...

VRC CEO, Dale Monteith said, "We look forward to working with Betfair to maximize the returns to Victorian racing, from this exciting new initiative, which hopefully can be expanded in the near term to include days other than Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington."


It's crazy that SkyRacing hold the international rights on Australian racing, yet the pictures shown in the UK are the rubbish which comes via America, complete with $50 pools and filler between races from two tracks. Get a deal done, get the proper stuff screened and give the UK bookies rebates for betting into the Aus pools (like they do with the American racing).

French govt now making up laws as they go...

And you thought your politicians/courts were hopeless! (Applies to just about every nation in the world)

'Rights Recognition' Lands Unibet €1.2m French Fine


Unibet has become the first victim of the highly controversial ‘sports betting right’ which is yet to be formally adopted in France, but which has been retroactively applied to the online gaming and betting operator by a Paris court this week. As a result, Unibet must now pay €300,000 to the Roland Garros tennis tournament in recognition of the ownership right, in addition to a further €900,000 in penalties.


So a law which hasn't been introduced yet and will never receive EU approval now says Unibet has to hand over 1.2m euro for something which happened in the past. Funnily enough, Unibet will be challenging the decision.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

French online gambling bill is a farce

Don't expect any companies moving to France in a hurry after the National Assembly voted to introduce licensing regulation for online wagering. Amongst the ridiculous items in the bill:

- all accounts held by French citizens must be closed down until the respective company is licensed and situated on French soil

- all markets must have a best pay back return of 85% (imagine betting on tennis or NFL with markets of 1.74/1.74!!)

- big chunk (8%) of turnover (not profit) to be paid to the government and then the operator must negotiate with the respective sports bodies to pay more for the privilege again

This will get struck down by the EU - all it does is protect the govt run duopoly of the PMU and FdJ. No competitive business will put up with such crap.

European Gaming and Betting Association Secretary General Sigrid Ligne said

“At the time when Europe is watching the developments of France’s reform, the introduction of even more unjustified restrictions is threatening to corrupt the efficient workings of the market.

“If the senate votes along these lines, the prospects of a French market that is both viable and compliant with EU law is a longway off.”


Meanwhile Right2Bet is lobbying hard for the rights of European punters.

Sportingbet makes voluntary Levy payment

Unlike some of their rival bookmakers who have headed offshore to avoid paying tax and levy, Sportingbet have chosen to make a voluntary Levy Board payment for the upkeep of British racing, beginning next year.

From the Racing Post:

Chief executive Andrew McIver, whose company is sponsoring a £50,000 four-year-old hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, said yesterday: "We're delighted to demonstrate our support of the British racing industry by committing to a voluntary payment of the levy, which equates to the statutory payments [ten per cent of gross profits] we would make if we were based in the UK.

The figure is expected to be around the £250k mark.

Obviously there is something in it for them, wanting to add credibility to their sponsorship of various races and the Racehorse Owners' Association awards night they have agreed to sponsor for three years. Other firms paying a voluntary levy fee include Betfair (assume because they weren't covered in the original legislation) and Blue Square.

Meanwhile Cheltenham have accepted sponsorship from controversial Maltese racing bookmaker Zeturf, who to my knowledge, don't pay any levy to anyone. British Racing really needs some firm leadership to bring a united front towards a secure financial future...

NRL match-fix scam probe gets deeper

Last match of the season, the team already knows they will get the wooden spoon - what exactly is there to play for? Apparently a free night at a brothel...

Victorian gambling board probes suspicious bets on Roosters game

The Herald revealed last month there was bitter division within the Roosters team because of fears a small group of players had manipulated the result of the match against the Cowboys on September 6 to extend their loss beyond 13 points.

The Roosters went from being 16-6 ahead at half-time to losing the game by 32-16, leaving the bookmakers and betting agencies with a payout of between $4 and $5.50 to the large number of punters who had backed the Roosters to lose by 13 points plus.

...

It has been alleged that some of those Roosters players then ''celebrated'' winning the wooden spoon by visiting a brothel where they were provided with free services.

The Herald revealed that one Roosters player openly accused a teammate of getting some kind of kickback. ''I'm aware that several of the players have been up there [to the brothel] on a weekly basis throughout the year.

''On occasions they are receiving free services. I don't know why or how that works. Why you would want to involve yourself in those types of circles when you are a professional sportsman, I do not know.''


The NRL has been sweeping events like this under the table for years. Never a fixed match to my knowledge, just exotic markets like First Tryscorer (several times) and the winning margin like this one. The NRL likes to think it is whiter than white, actually it is acting like USA Track and Field in the 80s and 90s, just burying it all under the carpet and hoping it will go away.

NSW authorities chose to ignore it, or just look no deeper than from their comfy office chairs. Time to get serious and investigate properly to clean up the sport in desperate need of an image change.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sea The Stars retired

No great surprise there, but racing really needs to do something about keeping its superstars in the game for longer. One season is not enough to class him as a true champion - you have to come back and defend your crowns to earn that. As a 2yo, he showed potential, at 3 he was the best by far and at 4 and beyond he'll be shagging his life away making his shareholders very rich, and hopefully throwing some talented progeny.

So what can flat racing do to prolong the racing careers of its stars? Jumping tops the popularity stakes in Britain mostly because Kauto Star, Denman, Hardy Eustace, Istabraq and other stars come back year after year. The public feel a connection with these horses built up over more than a few months.

Here's an idea - create a jackpot pool so that any horse who wins a feature, open age Group I race two years in a row gets a bonus on top of the winner's cheques. So if Sea The Stars collected £1m for winning the Arc, next year he would be racing for an extra million or two on top. In all likelihood, it probably wouldn't have stopped Sea The Stars going to stud, but those around him who might win one or two big races might just hang around a bit longer.

European prizemoney isn't strong enough on its own to keep the great flat horses in training and it's a major shame. Australia doesn't have it quite so bad, good horses go to stud early but the Aussies do over-race as two-year-olds so you tend to have early performers at two and three, and another group maturing into top performers at three, four, five... Japan has even bigger prizemoney than Australia, what's it like there?

The Racing For Change committee is looking for ways to improve the industry, particularly flat racing. Create the incentives for the top horses to stay in training and let geldings compete in the big races. The rest of the world has no problem with it, so stop bowing to the breeders who get rich while the racing public aer only allowed brief glimpses of stardom. Racing should be about RACING and not the sales catalogues.

sponsors want the Ashes back on terrestial TV - who'd have thought?

Here's a no-brainer if ever I saw one - England cricket sponsors want to see the Ashes back on terrestrial TV. npower do, Betfair surely will and no doubt all the others do as well, even if they have to pay more for it. When less than 1/3 of the 2005 audience watched the last Test at The Oval, that's a pretty strong argument. Betfair's volume on the whole series was no bigger than 2005, predominantly due to the broadcast factor.

Sponsors want Ashes on terrestrial TV

Not sure I'll be here for the next one, living here for two losses in a row has been hard enough!!

Monday, 12 October 2009

and there's the jackpot!



Following on from the previous post...

Kempton's not a track I get many results at laying the field, the camera angle seems to be too good (you want people to think horses are further ahead than they really are, running direct at the camera is great for that) and all-weather tracks don't seem to throw up the jackpots too often.

But today we got lucky :D

laying the field at Windsor



One of the most popular search phrases for this blog is 'lay the field' which was one of the fun strategies we used to demonstrate regularly at our Betfair Education sessions. It's been a while since I've made a post about it so today I've decided to have a go and post an example of how it works.

Quite simply, we are looking for at least two horses to trade short in-running, with a jackpot occurring if even more do (there have been races where four horses have traded at 1.15 or shorter, my favourite was the day at Worcester when I had three matched at 1.34 and not the winner because it was never in front until the line).

In this example I have gone for the double lay - laying £20 at 1.45 on all runners (worst-case scenario -£9 if one horse hits the front and isn't challenged) and then again for £88 at 1.07 (risking another £6.16). Worst-case scenario of -£15.16. The second lay at 1.07 is for the jackpot, when one trades really short, but also not risking enough to wipe out all of the profit when two are matched at 1.45 (£11).




To set up all the lay bets, the simplest way is via the Gruss Betting Assistant. It will cost you £6/month to subscribe. If that's too much for you, then realistically, you shouldn't be betting in the first place.

You can set up all the lays manually on Betfair which isn't a problem in small fields but not much fun on today's 24 runner handicaps at The Curragh. Set the amount you wish to risk via the Liability link - click up comes box, input the amount, click OK and the stakes are set. Then if you are doing this before the race, make sure you select the Keep option!

Is this guaranteed to work? Absolutely not. There is no gambling plan in the world which is guaranteed to work. Will it make you rich long term? Highly unlikely. Will it send you broke short term? Highly unlikely. But you will have a lot of fun doing it. Just bear in mind that all systems are prone to losing streaks, and laying odds-on shots is particularly likely to have that. But on the other hand, you can have days with three 1.03 shots beaten and spirits are high once again :)

Why did I choose 1.45 and 1.07? No reason really, feel free to choose your own numbers. The lower you go, the less likely you are to get matched but the jackpot will be higher. The higher the price, the more chance you have of getting matched, but a losing streak suddenly becomes more costly. There is no compulsion to stick to just odds-on laying either. The maths is simple - match 2 at less than 2 for a profit (assuming level stakes), 3 at less than 3, etc. I know of guys who will do it in golf tournaments laying the field at 6, looking for at least six players to matched at that price. I'd probably avoid it when Tiger is playing though...

Experiment with the price, the stake, which types of races (class, venue, distance, odds of favourite etc) and learn more about how the markets work. Some tracks will work better than others. And there's no reason why it won't work on other sports, you just have to understand when and why the prices move to do it successfully.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments, the longer this post gets the less likely people are to read it!

the Tote becomes a political football again

In all the posturing between Gordon Brown and David Cameron before the UK general election sometime next year, the big debate is now how are we going to pay for the mess we are in, particularly the huge government bail-out of the economy. Brown has proposed a sale of several public assets including the Tote again, the sale of which had been put on the shelf during the economic downturn.

Government's £16bn sale of assets

Is this what is best for the country or just the bet they can come up with to save Brown's arse as PM? As Vince Cable says in the article, "This is not a good time to sell assets." Dumping it cheaply will not serve the racing industry like it is supposed to.

Here's a thought. Rather than constantly talking of selling the Tote off at a fire sale price, how about floating it? Encourage mum and dad buyers to get involved, and hopefully increase the client base as well. People who buy shares in a firm are more likely to spend money there when given a choice. Obviously the UK Tote is a whole different kettle of fish to the Australian TABs which have had huge IPOs in the past decade, but it's certainly worth a look at floating the Tote...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Nobel Peace Prize goes to Obama, but why?

Beware when betting on awards and prizes where votes are cast by a committee or the general public - all logic can potentially go out the window!

Has he got it for “Not being George W”?

In a word, yes. I'm sure he will probably be worthy of that prize in due course, but he's hardly had time to do anything on a world stage apart from try to bail out his own busted economy.

Obama was 25/1 at Ladbrokes with hardly any takers. Whenever it comes to betting on an award where people have to vote for it, be it the Nobel Peace Prize, Mercury Music Award, Man of the Match in a sports event, Big Brother eviction etc, you must consider the psychology of those making the votes and how much influence they have. Sometimes voters can just be blinded by the celebrity status or headlines around one person. Other times, they vote to an agenda - to get a certain player chosen in a representative team or to appeal to a particular audience. Any awards on the BBC for example are heavily-biased towards the demographic of the standard BBC viewer rather than a Sun reader.

While some might discard these markets immediately as serious betting propositions, I don't see these as any harder than trying to unravel a horse race like the Cambridgeshire (40 runner handicap race). You just need to think like the people who are voting and understand where they are coming from.

That said, I find it very surprising Obama won, but to be honest I hadn't heard of most of the other contenders, so I have no idea how strong or weak the field was...

Betfair blocked by loopy French regulations

Despite egamingreview claiming Betfair were over the line six weeks ago, the French government have drafted their new online betting legislation this week, with a specific prohibition for betting exchanges.

French government's new gambling law bans Betfair and all exchanges

The French government has effectively outlawed the online betting exchange Betfair after passing an amendment to new gambling laws. These are being closely watched by sports bodies in the UK which are lobbying the government to bring in similar regulations.

Under a surprise last-minute amendment, betting exchanges such as Betfair that allow punters to lay as well as place bets were excluded from the legislation in a move that the company described as "discriminatory".


...

Passing the amendment, the French parliament also referred to a 2007 report from the British Gambling Commission that said 9.8% of punters using betting exchanges developed gambling addictions, compared to a rate of between one and three per cent among the general gambling population.


If that was the case - and Betfair have ridiculed the report as being of a meaningless sample size - then there would be over 200,000 problem gamblers from Betfair alone based on their number of accountholders. Somehow I don't think so. Try looking at pointless slot machines and casinos if you want the major cause of problem gambling.

Anyway, it looks like this battle will go via the EU and French law courts for a long, long time to come. The bookies making a move on Paris will be delighted!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Latvian football club booted out for match-fixing

Could this be the first of a few teams from the old Eastern Europe in trouble for match-fixing?

Latvian Football Club Banned Following Betting Probe

One of the top clubs in the Latvian football league, FC Dinaburg, have been banned for the rest of the season after the club's Prsident and head coach were found to have placed bets on the outcome of the team's matches following an investigation by the Latvian Football Federation and UEFA.

Had it been in England, they probably would have received a pathetic slap on the wrist....

Monday, 5 October 2009

French gambling bill debated this week

When it comes to European nations taking their time to adhere to European Union directives regarding breaking down the monopolies of state-run gambling companies, you can't be surprised that the French have been dragging their heels on it.

ZeTurf, a Maltese-based gambling firm which focuses on French racing, angered the French government last week when a 'press release' appeared in the free daily Metro paper in Paris, just two days before the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe.

Zeturf French advertising condemned

Online operators have become increasingly impatient in recent months ahead of the market liberalisation which is planned for early 2010, entering into media and sports sponsorship deals as they compete to establish themselves ahead of the market opening.

France’s proposed gambling bill will be presented to the National Assembly for discussion on Wednesday.

Sea The Stars - simply awesome

I've watched a lot of top quality racing in the 25 years or so I've been keen on the sport, and even seen a fair bit of historical footage.. but I can't think of any horse who can match what Sea The Stars has done this season.

Six Group 1s spread over six months, beating his age group and open class, in three countries, and facing all the team tactics that the likes of Aidan O'Brien and co can serve up... and still braining them. He wasn't even at his best yesterday, and still cruised home in what the experts have called the strongest Arc field in years.

I'd embed the YouTube clip but unfortunately it's all in widescreen and won't fit on the blog page - Sea The Stars wins the 2009 Arc de Triomphe

It will be great to see his progeny gracing the turf in a few years' time, but it will be just as sad that he will almost certainly be packed off to stud and won't return to defend some of his crowns next season.

Great call from Jim McGrath, his quote of 'Perfection in the equine form' pretty much sums it up.

IOC wish they had enough betting interest to warrant anti-corruption measures

Fair play to the IOC for being proactive and wanting to avoid any match-fixing scandals from ever tainting an Olympic Games. But it's a bit rich to single out betting as the evil one when over the years there have been numerous suspicious judging decisions in athletics, boxing and other sports to satisfy political agendas. Not to mention the old junkets and favours which used to be exchanged in order to succeed with a bid to host the Games.

IOC sets up system to watch for illegal betting

At last year's Beijing Games, the IOC used a system set up by FIFA for soccer to watch for irregular betting on Olympic competitions. The monitoring found that a wide array of bets were offered for all Olympic sports, but that bets laid were generally small — between $7 to $70, the IOC says. It says there were no cases of irregular betting.


Firstly the title of the article is wrong - you can't 'monitor' illegal betting, the whole point of black market betting is that it's untraceable! The only firms involved in the monitoring system will be licensed to do so, but that's just a journo error, no doubt written by a Yank who thinks legalised sports betting only exists in Vegas.

The IOC need to realise from the highlighted paragraph above that bookies aren't suddenly going to risk hundreds (or even tens) of thousands of pounds on a sport they never bet on. Football, tennis and to a lesser extent, basketball and ice hockey are big betting sports, and this will translate to the Olympics when big names are involved. Good luck getting on to win more than a couple of grand if you are lucky (unless your account is marked 'MUG') on athletics, swimming, boxing, judo etc. Is an athlete competing for worldwide fame and glory really going to sacrifice their dream for a few grand?

And a useless comment from some spokesman:

The senior vice president of the World Lottery Association, Risto Nieminen, told the AP that the problem of match-fixing and irregular betting in sports "is far more serious than people understand."

"It's a much larger threat to sport than doping," said Nieminen, whose association groups state lottery and gaming organizations from 76 countries. "It is really worrying. I think the most worrying part is if there is a connection to organized crime."


I disagree. Match-fixing relating to betting has the potential to ruin a handful of sports; there aren't that many sports around where big betting exists. Sure a bookmaker might list 30 sports they bet on, but most have little interest and they'd be lucky to hold £1000 on a good weekend. Doping can affect just about every sport. Athletics, cycling and weightlifting are three sports which have been decimated by it. Usain Bolt has done an enormous amount to fix athletics all by himself. Cycling will struggle for years to come, it did nothing about the problem for decades and major race winners won't be assumed as clean for a few years yet. Weightlifting had huge issues with it with systematic steroid abuse from several countries. Bringing in a rule of three positive tests from one nation and the country gets kicked out of competition put a stop to that. Biathlon and winter endurance sports have had their share of scandals with blood-doping and EPO/CERA abuse by Austrian and Russian athletes in recent years, plus one Finnish athlete (where I assume Mr Nieminen is from by his surname) who was TWICE busted for it.

Then we look at swimming where medals are decided by which brand of suit they are sponsored by, because FINA were too slow/lame to ban them when they first came out. Or boxing, where the sport is just a joke because of suspicious judging and way too many 'world' organisations meaning that title belts are virtually meaningless with the exception of a handful. No wonder Ultimate Fighting (UFC) has taken off so quickly. The list goes on. Betting has the potential to cause scandal, but don't treat the public as so naive and stupid to believe that it is the only cause of artificial results in sport.

Scoop6 starts to mount up again

Saturday's card at Newmarket featuring that impossible Cambridgeshire means the Scoop6 will rollover again, with £540k in the win fund and £232k in the bonus fund for next week. So tough were the Scoop6 races and the results they threw out, nobody lasted past the fourth leg and just one place dividend was paid. The lucky punter was the only one to name a placegetter in every leg, and claimed the whole place fund off £75,648 for his £2 stake. He didn't get one winner, just six placegetters. Nice work... much better than the all-up!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Japanese F1 Grand Prix preview

A very eventful qualifying day at Suzuka, with the qualifying list looking a lot different to how they'll end up on the grid tomorrow morning.

Here's my preview

Friday, 2 October 2009

Redknapp plunge - price manipulation at its best?

Has someone been having a go at manipulating the betting markets over the last 24hrs? Several UK bookies have suspended the book on Next Premier League Manager to Leave after substantial backing for Harry Redknapp starting last night. The man himself denies it, which doesn't mean a lot considering when he outright denied he was going to Portsmouth in a press conference as Southampton manager a few years ago, whilst the price on him getting the job was getting smashed on Betfair, allegedly by people he knew rather well....

But this one doesn't make a lot of sense, unless there's a lot going on behind the scenes. We saw a few weeks ago where market manipulation was the sole reason behind a massive plunge on Rafael Benitez leaving and Franck Ribery heading to Anfield. It seems that here, some guys with plenty of money to splash around have tried to skew the books by backing Redknapp from any old price into single digits before the market closed, almost certainly creating arbitrage opportunities somewhere, or simply a much bigger price on the manager they wish to back, such as Paul Hart. There's obviously a better than tenuous link between Harry and Portsmouth, but why on earth he'd go back when the club is going tits up is beyond me.

It won't be the last time this happens. How exactly can bookies or authorities stop it? If you're a punter, the best advice is don't be a lemming and just follow the money blindly - understand why a move is occurring if you want to get behind it.

poor racing at Newmarket

This is supposedly a very good three-day meeting at Newmarket, yet in the final three races at headquarters today, there are 10 runners in total. That is shocking! Before withdrawals, there were just 13 acceptances. Any non-Group race which can't reach six final declarations should be scrapped.

If the racing industry wants more money from the betting industry, then they have to stop delivering such shoddy product. The Tote, the biggest supporter of racing, is a lame duck when field sizes are like this - who is going to pay 4% per runner in a four-horse race??

This happens time and again throughout the year, with farcical two horse races regularly happening during the National Hunt season. Racing mightn't like being a 'servant' to the betting industry but the simple fact is that racing is funded from betting, thus they need to smarten up their act. If industry head honchos want to moan about not getting enough funding, perhaps they should get their house in order...

Newmarket has no excuses, it's not as if they are miles from training centres or poorly funded. Get on the phone and chase trainers to fill your fields.

NRL Grand Final preview


This goes out to Australian Betfair clients and is sometimes posted on betting.betfair.com.au.

MELBOURNE STORM 1.66 (-3.5@ 1.83)
v PARRAMATTA EELS 2.48 (+3.5@ 2.18)
Total 36.5pts

ANZ Stadium, Sunday 4th October, 5.15pm

2009 clashes:

Round 19 – Parramatta 18-16 Melbourne, Parramatta Stadium

Last finals clash:

2007 Finals Week 3: Melbourne 26-10 Parramatta, Docklands

Last premiership: Melbourne – 2007; Parramatta – 1986

STORM

Coach Craig Bellamy revealed this week how a team meeting in late August revamped Melbourne’s game plan and turned the team strategy on its ear. Limping into the finals with four losses in six, including against the Eels in round 19, the revised style has produced an average scoreline of 37-9 in the four matches since. Just twice in the regular season did the Storm rack up 40 points – they’ve matched that in just two finals games and defensively, the tries they have conceded only came after Melbourne had posted at least five of their own. Critics may argue that Manly and Brisbane had had enough by that stage of the season and the results flattered Melbourne. The rebuttal is that you can’t play well when a premiership team comprehensively works you over. The named starting XIII is unchanged from that of the past two matches. Back in Round 19, Melbourne were without Steve Turner, Cameron Smith, Brett Finch and Ryan Hinchcliffe. The loss of two hookers meant Dallas Johnson had to play as third-string hooker instead of lock, which cut out all influence from dummy half – few quick play the balls, less runs from dummy half etc as Johnson’s pace is not his best asset.

Melbourne can never remove the memory of last year’s Grand Final defeat, but a win here will do a lot to banish it to the history books. Genuine match winners in Billy Slater and Greg Inglis lead the way for Melbourne but the likes of Cronk, Finch (deemed too poor or the wrong fit to play for the Eels earlier in the season), Smith and Hoffman (both of whom sat on the sidelines this time last year) form the backbone of a side laced with good, hard-workers in a well-structured rather than a champion team. To win, Melbourne need to cut out the offloads from Parramatta, negate the effectiveness of Jarryd Hayne and find a weak link to break the line – possibly Eric Grothe who has only 62% tackle effectiveness this season.

EELS

Parramatta have won 10 of their past 11 matches, with their only lapse being once they had safely qualified for the finals. Every other match has been do-or-die; pressure at its best but it has to be very draining, mentally and physically, on the squad. Hayne escaped suspension during the week after a careless attempt to save a try with his feet, Nathan Cayless is severely doubtful with a hamstring injury, Fuifui Moimoi has been playing with a cracked rib, Daniel Mortimer will undoubtedly have had some issues recovering properly from the hip injury which almost kept him out the last week – the exertions of the last three months have taken their toll, can the blue and golds hold it together for one more special effort?

The Eels are a fantastic story this season, off-field turmoil, pushing for wooden spoon favouritism halfway through the season, matched at more than $200 to win the flag and now making the Grand Final from eighth. They had to beat the teams that finished one, two and three to reach this contest. Is there any petrol left in the tank? If you discount the round 26 match as little more than a training run to save energy for the finals, Parramatta have conceded just 70 points in 10 games. The squad is almost identical to that from round 19, with Feliti Mateo replacing Broderick Wright (who stands by for Cayless).

VERDICT


Melbourne plays a very structured game with tight defence and regular decoy play going forward. Parramatta’s resurgence has been heavily based on its offload strategy which either makes or breaks a team. In what has been a traumatic season for the NRL off-field, let’s hope the showpiece club game of the year is a classic.

RESULT BETTING

Eagle-eyed fans would notice that I haven’t tipped the Eels at all recently so I am hesitant to bet against them again, however I do think Melbourne are the stronger side. They’ve been here before, they had the mid-season lull and have tapered nicely for the match that counts. They play such a well-scripted game plan that closing down the offloads is not beyond them.

Melbourne -3.5

ADDITIONAL MARKETS

If you fancy a couple of interest bets while watching the game while enjoying a few beers, take a look at these.

First Scoring Play – Melbourne try (has occurred five matches in a row, while Parra have only achieved it twice in their last eight games)

First Try Scorer – Greg Inglis hasn’t opened the try tally for Melbourne in his past seven matches. Steve Turner might be better value for the Storm, and if you want an Eels player on your side, try Joel Reddy, one of only four Eels to be in double figures for the season.

Clive Churchill Medal
– the fullbacks Slater and Hayne are favoured but that position has only won the award twice since its inception in 1986. The most successful positions have been halfback (seven times) and lock (four times). On that logic, I’ll have a few bob on Cooper Cronk and Dallas Johnson. You’ll get big prices on Jeff Robson and Todd Lowrie for Parramatta.

BETS

5pts Back Melbourne -3.5 at 1.8 or better
2pts Back Melbourne Try – First Scoring Play, 2.2 or better
0.5pt Back Steve Turner (Storm), Joel Reddy (Eels) First Try Scorer, 14.5 and 18 respectively
0.25pts Back Cooper Cronk (Storm). Dallas Johnson (Storm) Clive Churchill Medal, 15 and 36.