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today's edition of 'no bloody clue'

Yesterday it was Racing NSW expecting punters to allow them to install monitoring software on their laptops if they take them on-course to trade.

Today it's British racing's representatives on the Levy Board asking bookmakers to pay up to 76% more to cover racing.

Betting companies should be paying for the right to field on British racing, I do not dispute that, but let's be practical about it. The biggest names in the industry are doing all they can to avoid tax and levy, so the industry decides to ask for nearly double the current amount? They have rocks in their heads.

Sure you need to start with a big 'offer' as a starting point for negotiation, but it's rather obvious there is no wish for negotiation here, just a demand. Racing betting turnover, as a percentage of business for bookmakers is going one way - DOWN. Betting companies (if I say bookmakers out of habit, I do mean for the term to cover exchanges, totes and bookies) are making bigger profits, but out of other products - casinos, bingo, poker, live sports betting etc - all products which British racing has no entitlement under the way the industry is structured here.

BHA chief executive Nic Coward described the demand as "fair and reasonable.... based on the levy which applied in 2003-4.... with a fixture list of 250 less than our current 1500 and when the price of a litre of diesel was around 75p."

Let's disect that:

Why run so many dud races just to make bookmakers happy if they aren't (in your mind) prepared to pay for them? Would the world be a poorer place if there were less 45-rated horses running at Southwell or very slow horses running in bad jumps races over the summer? I seriously doubt it.

What has the price of diesel got to do with bookmakers? They control their costs, it's up to racing and its participants to manage theirs. The cost of showing live racing coverage in betting shops has gone up markedly for bookies via the greed of some racecourses setting up Turf TV. The argument is just as valid that racing deserve less back from bookies because of that.

It does worry me to see UK racing so poorly funded. The genie is never going to go back into the bottle to make the Tote the only betting option for punters. The racetracks are not united enough to make a concerted push to promote the Tote exclusively in order to generate the extra turnover. Bookmakers are high on the list of sponsors in the UK - expenditure which does not count for Levy payment - and racecourses are never going to bite the bullet and refuse sponsorship funds. Some courses even accept advetising and sponsorship from firms based outside the UK and paying no levy at all - that would be the first place to start closing ranks.

Racing For Change has a lot of work to do....

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  1. Hi Scott. Just wanted to pop by and say hello. You left a comment on my blog and I have just seen it. I must say, your blog seems very interesting. I have added your blog to my blog list. x

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