Monday, 29 March 2010

the first regulated sports investment fund?

I toyed with doing something like this a few years ago but never took it any further. It was always going to need the backing of a financial group to get it off the ground.

Regulated sports betting fund unveiled

Investors seeking uncorrelated, “economy-proof” returns are being offered a new asset class – trading on sports betting exchanges.

The Galileo Fund, which will be launched this week by London-based Centaur Corporate, claims to be the world’s first regulated such vehicle.

It will trade in sports such as football, racing and tennis on Betfair and other online exchanges that facilitate so-called in-running betting, hosting markets on events already in progress.


Good luck to them, I'd much prefer to invest my money in a fund like that, than one susceptible to major crashes in the economy.

ADDENDUM

But are they the right company to launch such a fund? I believe this is the same firm that dabbles in teaching people to trade. Having done that for a few years with Betfair, that's a precarious position to be in, teaching people to eliminate risk but also to make an earn out of it for the business. My Education programme was criticised by Harry Findlay in a Racing UK interview once (words to the effect of "they'd be much better off being taught by me to be a gambler"), and to an extent I agreed with his but a company can't go out and encourage punters to take risks, then sit back and take the profits as said punters go broke. There's an ethical balance between whetting someone's appetite to go their own way and learn more, and just forcing it down their throat and having to deal with complaints when they inevitably got it wrong due to going back to their old, unprofitable habits.

Centaur have also been known for glossy sales pitches and over the years they have also been a tipping and syndication service, and fell foul of the Advertising Standards Authority at one stage...

CentaurGlobal

ASA judgment

Again, good luck to them, but they need to be more transparent if they are to succeed in the financial world. Still a small investment with one's eyes wide open to the risks wouldn't be such a bad thing, but he who takes out a second mortgage for it is asking for trouble...

Intralot move into Morocco

Greek lottery giant Intralot have signed a deal to operate lottery and sports betting in Morocco via two state-owned companies.

Intralot to run lotteries and sports betting in Morocco

Greece’s Intralot said Monday that following an international procurement process, it has signed a five-year contract to undertake the technical and commercial operation of the two state-owned Moroccan lotteries, Societe de Gestion de la Loterie Nationale and La Marocaine des Jeux et des Sports.

...

The Societe de Gestion de la Loterie Nationale operates national lottery games in Morocco with a core focus on draw and instant games, while La Marocaine des Jeux et des Sports holds the concession to organise sports betting games in the country. Last year gross sales reached approximately €50 million and €70 million respectively for the two lotteries.



That sounds like a very good deal for Intralot. Morocco has betting shops all over the country, mostly focused on French racing when I was there several years ago (beautiful country to visit if you haven't been there). Obviously football is part of the interest as well, as the world becomes more homogenised with western culture, then betting is expected to grow. Internet penetration should continue to grow steadily, so watch for online firms to try to make an impression there soon.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

weekly summary and here comes the footy!

Too many tidbits, not enough time for full-length articles...

The mystery in the Betfair/Danny Nikolic/Neville Clements inquiry in Australian racing gets deepers with professional punter Neville Clements being warned off all Australian racecourses indefinitely, no doubt as a refusal to share phone records which will incriminate him. There is plenty more to come in this story. Let's hope if a conviction is warranted, then it is reached, unlike the farcical scenes of the Fallon case in the UK a few years back.

It's March, so Italian football is looking dodgy again. On the weekend we had the Chievo-Cagliari boat race which went as planned, but last night a Serie B match was taken off the board by all and sundry but then didn't go as planned. All the money was for a draw between Vicenza and Crotone, but the away team won 2-0, even with 10 men! Did the authorities tell them they were being watched very closely, or was it the case of a few punters trying to spoof the market and reaping the rewards? It has happened in tennis a few times now, and everyone will believe it when the grapevine says an Italian game is fixed....

Centrebet have explained their lack of announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange re potential takeovers by way of confidentiality. Sportingbet have announced they are not going to proceed with a bid, and I seriously doubt Hills will go ahead either. Do Ladbrokes have the cash to buy them out?

Cheltenham was massive for bookies and a fast-track to the poorhouse for most punters. When the placepot pays £41k on Gold Cup day, that's not a good sign for punters. The High St bookies say they won about £60m off a hold of about £600m - I reckon they've toned that down a bit after they were attacked for being greedy and irresponsible when they scooped the pool on the Grand National last year, when Mon Mome won at 100-1. But the poor old UK Tote held a rather poor £10m for the week - that's 1.67% of the estimated industry turnover for the week. Why would anyone want to buy them when they are that irrelevant to UK racing? Sure, they could be a bargain if they were valued like that, but the Govt has a very unrealistic expectation of them. They are a lame duck.



Big news of the week for sports fan is real footy, Aussie Rules, starts tomorrow. If you're in the UK like me, you can watch a few live games of AFL each week on ESPN UK. My poor suffering Richmond are in the opening game, against the arch-enemy, Carlton. The great man, Richo (featured in the photo), won't be there unfortunately, he retired in the off-season and will be farewelled with a lap of honour before the game.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Italian football on the nose again

It's nothing new but it's amazing how these things get swept under the carpet because "it's the Italian way". Peter Webb pointed out on his blog today, the Chievo vs Catania result was known before the match began. The majority of bookmakers took the match off the board, and those who did keep it up, had the draw odds-on which is ridiculous. The 1-1 draw traded as low as evens pre-match on Betfair, when it should usually trade around 7.

The Italian culture is that friends should always help each other, and that there's no point in one party beating the other when they have nothing to gain from it. That's admirable with your mates, but it has no place in professional sport. If the sporting authorities had any balls at all, they would come down on it like a house of bricks. We're talking about a first-world country with a third-world set of ethics. Take a look at the two teams. Chievo were almost certainly clear of relegation, Catania could do with a few more points to make themselves safe as well. So the most convenient result for both teams was to play out a draw, which as the betting showed, was never in doubt. Expect these shenanigans to continue throughout Italian football all the way through to the end of the season.

And FIFA & UEFA think betting is the source of all corruption. This one had nothing to do with betting. But it's much easier for self-righteous bureaucrats to blame it all on betting so they can wipe this sort of garbage under the carpet....

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Cheltenham - you beauty!


Ok, there are now only 90mins until the first race of this year's Festival. The roar from the crowd when the Supreme Novices' Hurdle starts the four-day festival is one of racing's great thrills.

Have I got any winners lined up? Not a clue. Can't remember ever not copping a battering during Cheltenham, so I'll take it fairly easy I think.... but that's easier said than done and I'm sure I've said that before. It's the old saying, bet within your means, and make sure it's still fun. You're allowed to enjoy the moment rather than take it completely seriously once in a while.

Whatever you do this week, good luck and make sure you shop around for the best prices and offers!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Estonia joins the list of nations defying EU regulation

Doubt this will agree with too many directives from the EU, but they are going to do it anyway. I wonder how this will affect BetRadar and Bet Genius, two of the online bookmaker's essential right-hand-man services, which have some of their technical teams based in Tallinn.....

Estonian online gaming blacklist ISP blocks start Monday

Internet Service Providers in Estonia have begun to implement measures to block citizens' access to illegal online gambling sites following the release of the first blacklist by the country's Tax and Customs Administration. Included in the preliminary list seen by Gaming Intelligence are 175 international sites, including some of the best known brands in the market.

There could be chaos amongst bookies on Monday if some of them have to go back to doing the work themselves!!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

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....

sad news for Hayes imports from UK/Ireland

Two high-quality former European horses, with high hopes of success, have had to be put down in the last 24 hrs. Aqaleem (running in Aus as Our Aqaleem) and Changingoftheguard have both had to be put down, robbing the David Hayes stable of two very good horses. Aqaleem broke a shoulder in trackwork and Changingoftheguard suffered complications during a gelding operation.

A real shame, they looked like two of the best imports brought to Australia for several years.

Read more details at Racenet.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

yeah, that'll work...

Racing NSW and the antiquated blokes in pork pie hats who think they run the show have introduced some great 'new' ideas into NSW racing.

Internet Betting Approved for NSW bookmakers

Racing NSW bowed to mounting pressure from the local bookmaking ranks by finally approving their long standing appllication to take bets via the internet on NSW racecourses or from an approved bookmaking office.

Too little, too late say the bagmen as other states still have a massive advantage over them with the range of markets they can offer.

And the best of all...


Racing NSW has also agreed to allow punters to bring laptop computers onto NSW racecourses subject to similar terms and conditions imposed on bookmakers.

These conditions, which must be agreed to by the racecourse and auditorium patrons, include the pre-requisite that such computers are dedicated units and must have Racing NSW monitoring software installed.

Punters may access only approved websites and only after making application to Racing NSW for approval to carry a laptop computer on course.

Approved laptops will be subject to an annual monitoring fee.


Who on earth is going to comply with such draconian and pointless regulations? And what's the difference between a laptop and an Iphone or Android phone these days anyway? Very little.

bizarre advertising rule by UEFA

No surprise really, a sporting authority meddling in team affairs for the sake of it...

Betclic hits out at UEFA shirt ban: 'no legal basis'


BETCLIC chief executive Nicolas Béraud has hit out at UEFA’s refusal to let French football team Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) wear his company’s logo for tonight’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid, saying it has “no legal basis”.


UEFA have banned Lyon from wearing shirts depicting BetClic as their sponsor, a deal they signed many months ago, because the French government are taking as long as physically possible to delay the enactment of local gambling regulations which are supposed to comply with European Union directives.

Rather a big free kick for Bwin, sponsor of Real Madrid, tonight then....

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Centrebet up for sale

It may not be Bwin after all, as I predicted a few weeks ago, but the news is out in Australia that several different UK suitors are sniffing around the pioneer of online sports betting, Centrebet.

Centrebet rockets on takeover talks

SHARE investors piled into Centrebet yesterday as three British gaming companies loomed as potential bidders to take over the listed online wagering and gaming company.

...

Analysts said Centrebet -- which is 60 per cent owned by the family of its chief executive, Con Kafataris -- was a good fit for foreign companies wanting to get a stake in the Australian market ahead of expected deregulation.

British operators Ladbrokes, William Hill and Sportingbet are the reported overseas suitors for Centrebet and some analysts believe the takeover price could reach $2 a share.

The Productivity Commission recently recommended a swag of reforms thought to be favourable for growth in online sportsbooks and casinos in Australia.



The Australian market is undergoing major reform, the likes of Betfair, Paddy Power and Sportingbet are already out there, and there are several more to come. Most of the owners/founders of existing Australian firms - IASBet (Mark Read - sold to Sportsbet/Paddy Power), Centrebet (Con Kafataris), BetChoice (Colin Tidy), BetStar (Michael Eskander), TopSport (Lloyd Merlehan) are all on the far side of 50 and all willing to sell if the price is right. Don't expect this to be the last sale in Australia.

Centrebet have been around for a long time and have a geographical distribution of clients better than most bookmakers. It would have been top of that category 3-4 years ago, but BWin and Bet365 have probably usurped them there.

Do your homework!

A costly lesson yesterday for a Betfair in-running layer at Lingfield, where the winner in one race was matched at 1000 for £66. A late change in colours made it difficult, but as I used to stress to people in BF Education classes, use the period just before the race to confirm the colours, as often the shades in the paper or online guide are out, or there could be a late change of ownership, a damaged set of silks needed replacing or the owner has managed to leave that at home.

But the killer in this case was in the detail, as written in the Racing Post..... The winning horse was the only grey in the event, undoubtedly the most distinguishing factor in a race!

Saturday, 6 March 2010

FIFA once again prove they are out of touch

Is there any other sport ruled by a bunch of more overpaid, self-righteous pompous gits out of touch with the modern day? We see cheating pricks like Thierry Henry cost the Republic of Ireland tens of millions of pounds because the referees couldn't see what every person and every camera in the stadium could. We see Birmingham today beaten in an FA Cup quarter-final because the blind bastard posing as assistant referee couldn't spot what was blatantly obvious from the same position - daylight between the goalpost and the ball as it crossed the line. If it was Pompey in the same position, it could have spelt the end of the club. In amateur days, it mightn't have made much of a difference. This is when what happened on the field, stayed on the field, all the players shook hands and had a drink together after the game. The game is a long, long way from that in 2010. Poor decisions can cost players, teams and countries millions, and hoping the guilty player will hold his hand up and admit a foul or that it was a goal? You've got more chance of finding the Loch Ness monster.

Goal line technology ruled out

What is the problem? "We should not have technology in the game" - referees wear microphones, players wear boots designed by companies spending millions on research and development, stadia and pitches are built and maintained using state-of-the-art technology. And we're certainly not using the heavy leather balls they used in the 50s. If you don't want technology in the game, then don't let people watch it at home on TV - make them go to the game. It's there already, use it!

Worried about delays? Oh, give us a break - look at what happens in rugby or tennis. It's done quickly and the crowd build up tension waiting for it.

'We want the game to stay the same at all levels' - Oh, get real. Junior football is nothing like professional football. Grandstands, change rooms, advertising everywhere, overpaid prats who shag their teammates' wives/partners, referees who get abused and surrounded by these overpaid prats when they don't agree with a decision, diving..... do we really want these at all levels of the game? The best of a sport deserves the best it can have - the best players, the best venues, the best referees (is there such a thing?), the best technology... When you have fans who are willing to start fights/kill each other over results, isn't in the public interest to remove any doubt or room to attack the referees?

What's stopping the FA/Premier League going out on their own here? Are FIFA going to sanction them? Fat chance. For good or bad, the world now revolves around Premier League football and even FIFA aren't stupid enough to ignore that.

The comment from FIFA about how wonderful it is that people are still talking about the 1966 'was it or wasn't it a goal' in the final is stupid, as you'd expect from them. They're not debating the goal, it's just English fans clinging onto the memories of the only thing they have ever won!

Time for a league to bite the bullet and tell FIFA to piss off. FIFA is irrelevant to the club game anyway.