Thursday, 24 December 2009

self-righteous sycophants seek stagnation, not progress

Here's a heart-warming story from Australian racing - a bunch of pompous prats who want to see the continual decline of racing into a sport of a bygone era have formed an 'alliance' to keep racing in an era where punters wore flares and wide-collared shirts, or worse, safari suits (which until recently, was a requirement during summer at some metropolitan racing clubs).

Alliance Lobbies Commission for a Better Deal

Wednesday, 23 December 2009: A newly formed body of prominent racing industry participants is calling on the Federal Productivity Commission to support the campaign for racing to receive a better deal from wagering operators.

The newly formed National Horse Racing Alliance, representing a large number of owners, trainers, breeders, agents and organisations, has made detailed submissions to the Productivity Commission inquiry into gambling in a bid to secure better returns to the racing industry from corporate bookmakers, parimutual operators and betting exchanges.

The NHRA, made up of a broad range of racing participants including owners, trainers, breeders, bloodstock agents and their organisations, has been formed to give the industry participants a national voice and influence on issues affecting their very livelihoods.

The group is advocating the need for an appropriate levy on the turnover of wagering operators, rather than a fee based upon gross profit.


Look at who makes up this body - owners and trainers, fair enough, they put the show on for everyone and work damn hard to do it. But breeders and bloodstock agents? There are few bigger mobs of hypocrites in the industry than these guys.

Owners can't make enough money from racing - hmm, let me think why - anything to do with the cartel-driven prices they paid for the horse in the first place? And the fees the agents charged for their slice of the action? And how much exactly do those bodies return to racing for earning a living from it? Again, let me think... Some of them sponsor, but so do bookmakers (where they are allowed to, of course not in NSW because there's a cushy relationship between Racing NSW and Tabcorp). The argument against bookmakers counting sponsorship in their returns to the industry is that is a marketing expense which could be rescinded at any time - no different for breeders.

I loved one of their utterly clueless, self-servient quotes from the article:

"Reduction in horse numbers may produce smaller fields (poor betting mediums), lesser returns to punters and owners and lower quality racing, as horses migrate to jurisdictions with higher prize money such as in Asia."


Less horses being bred means lower quality?? Take a look at the plethora of rubbish being run on a daily basis - from Boxing Day to the 28th, there will be 29 TAB meetings taking place. And far too many of them will involve very ordinary horses with very little ability.

The only way less horses produces smaller fields is when the greedy bastards running the show try to run the same number of races. Whatever happened to quality? People don't go racing 99% of the year because most of it is complete dross. Commercial breeders are motivated by greed alone, pushing ridiculous numbers of mares through the breeding barns producing far too many yearlings, driving the average price for a sire's progeny down, but of course, the total profits up. And now there is even a court challenge in Australia, by some sycophant who obviously 'cares about the industry', trying to overturn the ban against artificial insemination. That's all we need, another flood of yearlings not good enough to race at a track with any class.

I have nothing against country racing, that's where I grew up. But stop trying to tell us that we need wall-to-wall racing every day of the week with low class beasts who have no place on a racetrack.

Without betting, there is no racing. There is no family of rich sheiks who will fund it in Australia, it has to survive on its own merits. And there is a balance to strike between attractive product, margins which encourage the punter to return again and again, and the returns to the industry. Tote-only racing is dull and only works in Asia - Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, where the culture and political influence are completely different.

NZ - tote only and the prizemoney is depressing. Most horses with any sign of ability are sold to Australia or Asia.

USA - very few tracks operate without relying on slots for prizemoney. Remove the premier tracks such as Churchill Downs, Santa Anita and Belmont from the figures and they are very, very sick. A Triple Crown track potentially being sold off to property developers, Californian tracks being bulldozed. High tote margins, privately-owned tracks with no system of linking all the pools together - it's a shambles.

France - take out the sheiks and it's not too pretty there either. Any decent jumping prospect is sold to the UK tout de suite, and the prizemoney there isn't flash at all.

Australia has the perfect range of betting channels - totes, bookmakers (on-course and corporate), and betting exchanges (read Betfair) all licensed. Restrict it to one betting channel - as charging on turnover will effectively do, the Racing NSW proposal will make racing very uneconomic for bookies and exchanges - and punters & spectators will fade away. It mightn't happen overnight, you'll still get busloads of pissed idiots passing out on the lawns on feature race days... but anyone actually having a bet regularly? Good luck.

All betting agencies seek to make money out of racing, and their businesses promote the sport day in, day out. They do pay fees for the privilege, and so they should - but they must be kept to viable rates - not figures created purely to protect racing's best mate, the TABs, who, it must be remembered are now private companies, working first and foremost for their shareholders, not the racing industry.

Breeders spit out far too many below average horses and then put their hands out for tax breaks, something which happens all around the world. And how much do they contribute to racing on a daily basis? Breeders have a place in the industry like all the others, but their importance is considerably less than owners, trainers, betting operators and punters - they just tend to have a lot more money to make a big song and dance about their 'importance'.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Fancy an insurance bet against an airline going bust?

If you're going on holidays or booking flights well in advance but worried about whether that airline will still be there months later, then this might be for you...

Paddy Power have reopened their next airline to go bankrupt market. I don't see an issue with this, it's the reality of the modern world, and those who criticise it are generally those under the most pressure anyway (see article re Flyglobespan). Of course there's the remote chance of an airline crash causing a bankruptcy, but that's pretty unrealistic, and very unlikely the small stakes you would be allowed to bet on this market would be big enough incentive to do evil...

Don't denounce Paddy's powers of deduction

Paddy Power looks set to ruffle a few feathers once again, after re-opening its book on which airline will be the next to go bust. The topic was very popular in the wake of the collapse of XL Leisure, the travel company, last year, and the demise of Flyglobespan, the Scottish airline, has apparently led to a renewed interest.

Wizz Air, the Hungarian airline, is the current favourite at 4/1, with Finnair close behind at 9/2. In at 10/1 is our very own British Airways, although this is probably not surprising, given the current climate.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

dithering idiot tries to protect his monopoly

No, it's not Robert Nason, the former CEO of Racing Victoria, who has recently resigned from Tabcorp and moved onto Telstra, oft nominated for the most stubborn company in Australia, it's Dr Friedhelm Repnik claiming that match-fixing would never occur if German citizens were only allowed to bet via his company.

Challenge to Baden-Württemberg Monopoly Rejected

The Chief Executive of Germany’s Baden-Württemberg Lotto company, Dr. Friedhelm Repnik, has called on the government to close illegal betting shops and step up the fight against European online betting providers, suggesting that the recent match-fixing scandal in German football is the result of such ‘uncontrolled’ betting.

Repnik’s comments followed a ruling last week by the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, in an appeal against a cease and desist order issued against private betting shops which allegedly brokered sports bets for betting companies licensed in Gibraltar and Malta.


It's not the European-licensed firms you have to worry about idiot, it's the firms in the Far East who have no qualms about betting on under-16 fixtures, and move prices according to the money, rather than closing down winning or crooked accounts, that are just a tad more concerning. But of course, making sure nobody wins by setting over-rounds of 120% on a football match is a surefire way of stopping anyone betting who might want to win!

Meanwhile, in other self-serving, monopolistic behaviour, the Dutch goverment monopoly which argued that placing an online bet with them was e-commerce, while placing an online bet with Betfair or any other betting site was e-gaming (!), face their court judgment tomorrow. Betfair's Mark Davies has already come out and said he doubts logic will prevail here as the normal three-month period of translation for Dutch court rulings such as this one has been expedited down to just six weeks - so either they've brought in a lot of translators on work experience, or the judgment was already decided before the court case in November...

Friday, 11 December 2009

Serena out of perspective

Serena Williams says her record fine for her death threat to the lineswoman at the US Open is a sexist vendetta against her. Her argument is based on the "significantly lesser" punishments for John McEnroe (Aus Open, 1990) and Jeff Tarango (Wimbledon, 1995).

McEnroe swore at the chair umpire and tournament referee, and was defaulted - the first time that had happened at a Grand Slam in the professional era. He was heavily fined as well, by 1990 standards. Was there a death threat to any official? No.

Tarango had an argument with the umpire, called him corrupt, walked off, and later, his batty wife slapped the chair umpire. He was suspended from Wimbledon and another Grand Slam event, plus a US$63k fine. Was there a death threat involved? No.

Williams has been fined US$82500 provided she behaves herself at the Grand Slams for two years. Given inflation, that is much less than Tarango's fine! Relative to the prizemoney available on tour then and now, the full fine of $175k barely matches it. If the women's game wasn't so desperate for a genuine no.1, she'd have copped a suspension as well.


Please note: I am travelling for a month, so posts will be infrequent for a while.

Friday, 4 December 2009

first of the UK firms gets a South African licence

At least I think it's the first... No news on the licensing terms, but since they have existing bookmakers, mostly operating on racing, you'd expect the tax rates and regulations are reasonable.

Victor Chandler Granted Licence Approval in South Africa


Ahead of plans to launch a full range of sports betting services in time for the World Cup next year, Gibraltar-based bookmaker Victor Chandler has announced that its application for a license to operate in South Africa has been approved by the Western Cape Gambling and Betting Board.


They won't be the last, numerous other firms including Betfair have been lobbying hard in South Africa for some time.

the Woods family Christmas portrait



I reckon every divorce lawyer in the US is getting excited at the moment. Yes, he's been a bad boy but I think a lot of it is down to him missing out on the prime of his social life because of his utter devotion to golf. When you haven't had a chance to 'sow the seeds', especially when you have everything going for you, that itch is always going to be there....

So worst case scenario, he loses half a billion dollars in a divorce settlement. Don't cry too much for him, he'd still have more money left than 99% of sportspeople combined....

Tote Tas off the market as govt valuation proves unrealistic

Sounds a bit like the UK example I think - the Tasmanian government thought it was time to raise some money by selling off their totalisator cash cow for a large sum. But who ever they used to provide the valuation had also been on the sauce the night before. Consolidated net profit of AU$9.8m in the 2008 financial year, yet the value was supposed to be at least AU$250m, in the poorest state of Australia. Half of that would be more realistic.

No takers! Tote Tasmania sale fails

No sale 'right move' on Tote Tasmania

The second article drops last year's profit to just AU$6.5m, so it might struggle to even reach $100mill.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Italian police celebrate busting an illegal syndicate

No surprises here. A Mafia boss sent to jail went back to his old ways when he got out. Nothing too newsworthy there, but the facts of article leave a bit to be desired...

Italian police broke up major mafia clan

Italian police have broken up a major mafia clan, issuing 83 arrest warrants and seizing businesses, land, race horses and a London-based online betting company, officials said Tuesday.

.....

The assets seized included the sporting goods empire "Sport&More" as well as the London-based Paradise Bet, described by police as one of the most important British online betting sites.


It would be a mighty long list if Paradise Bet were to ever have featured on a list of important British betting sites, and ignoring that rather large extension of the truth, the company hasn't existed for several years!

ParadiseBet ceased operations in 2006 and became the much-disliked Bet1128.

If they were referring to 1128, who are believed to be Italian-owned, they are a Maltese minnow anyway. But never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

UPDATE 23/12:

The UK Gambling Commission has suspended the licence of Paradise Bet, but Bet1128.com appears to still be running.. so not sure who it actually applies to??