Thursday, 30 September 2010

Betting floats popular in Europe too

After the long-awaited confirmation of the Betfair float, an eastern European operator has decided to follow suit. Czech betting agency Fortuna has announced plans to list on the Prague and Warsaw stock exchanges. The company's main territories are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, with a heavy emphasis on retail.

Czech Fortuna IPO planned by end-October

Czech betting agency Fortuna plans to float shares on the Prague and Warsaw stock exchanges by the end of October, two sources with knowledge of the deal said on Friday.

"The decision has been made this week. The firm's intention is to complete the listing by October," one of the sources said.

The initial public offering (IPO) should be announced in the middle of next week, with a prospectus to follow in the coming weeks.

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Polish media reported in January that Fortuna, owned by Czech and Slovak financial group Penta Investments, planned to raise €100 million from an IPO.

UniCredit and Erste Group Bank are running the flotation, which will be the first in Prague since 2008.

Fortuna is active in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The group reported an 11% rise in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to €11.61 million in the first half of the year.



Could this IPO be more successful than the Betfair float, at least in terms of upside for investors? Other reports have stated that 35% of the company will be available. With a strong base in eastern Europe, perhaps it could become a target for a bigger firm wishing to expand into those regions.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

excellent piece about money management

This is a great blog from a former Aussie colleague of mine who now makes a living punting professionally on Australian harness racing, particularly from his home state of Tasmania. UK punters won't have the slightest idea about that form of racing, but that's irrelevant, read his analysis of bet types and the logic behind how he trades....

Minimising losses and maximising returns

Its easy to preach that punters should never bet more than they can afford to lose or that staking levels should remain consistent to balance out the peaks and troughs but that is easier said than done for a lot of people and I find the easiest way is to minimise losses and maximise returns. Its especially hard to get your head around mentally so I thought I might share a few strategies that assist me in doing this.


Read the whole article, he knows his stuff as being able to make a living purely betting on totes (takeout at least 16%) is a very challenging task.

Monday, 27 September 2010

the life of a doping cheat is not a happy one

Sad news over the weekend with shamed British rugby league star Terry Newton taking his own life. Newton was serving a two-year ban for using human growth hormone, HGH. Only last month another high-profile athlete, American track star Antonio Pettigrew, took his own life after being exposed as having used HGH, despite it being back in his prime between 1997 and 2001. High-profile cyclist Marco Pantani took his own life in 2004 after years of allegations and suspensions over blood doping.

Then there's the long list of professional athletes in a variety of sports, including wrestlers, cyclists and former Soviet bloc athletes who have been so screwed up by years of steroid abuse they've either taken their own lives or their hearts have seized.

And of course, there's the famous case of Florence Griffith-Joyner who was never caught failing a dope test, but that was the era when USA Track and Field swept everything under the carpet, and Flo-Jo did wear ridiculous amounts of make-up to hide the fact she was turning into a bloke, and did die in her sleep before the age of 40.

Performance-enhancing drugs do more than cheat other athletes. They screw up lives, and not just in the physical sense.

Racing NSW back in court this week

The various appeals over the initial verdicts between Betfair and Racing NSW, and then Sportsbet and Racing NSW, over the racefields legislation fees will be heard this week.

How long it will all take I'm not sure, but a piece of free advice for Peter V'Landys... start clearing out your desk!

Betfair float valuation going low

Rival bookmaker Bodog don't mind a bit of innovative publicity, such as being first to price up who killed Archie Mitchell in EastEnders, which was then copied by several other firms. This time they have gone up with markets on the Betfair IPO valuation and the market moves are telling a story.

Initially, under £1.4bn (remember, the figure quoted in most of the press was £1.5bn, which was their valuation in 2005 when Softbank purchased 23% of the company) was priced at 8/11 with over that figure available at evens. But money has come strongly for the under, forcing it down to 1/2, then 1/3.

A Bodog spokesman said: “We have had 182 bets on the downside compared to just 22 on the upside. For a bet this niche this is quite a lot. Having a lot of experience in this industry I’m pretty certain these people will turn out to be right.

“We even had people setting up multiple accounts so they could get three bets at the maximum of £500 a bet.”

Sounds like a few ex-staff starting to hedge as their dreams of buying Ferraris are being downgraded to just a nice Jag...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

petty, juvenile arguments drag racing down

Have to give kudos to ATR presenter Sean Boyce for an excellent article picking holes in the petty arguments being put up by Betfair, bookmakers and the racing authorities at the moment over various issues all relating to funding. So much hot air and yet so many conveniently hidden facts are left out of each's argument. A petty fight with handbags and a lot of flimsy evidence.

When Two Tribes Go To War

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Exchanges like to point to the price edge their customers enjoy but also insist that, despite the very different MO which makes that difference possible, they should be subject to tax and levy at the same rate as bookies. They also like to offer the more attractive products from the traditional bookies portfolio to their own customers using their own cash and operating as traditional bookies. Hence exchanges are happy to stand multiples to their customers in exactly the same way as bookies do – more about this later.

Bookies in turn, hate comparisons with exchanges on the one hand but demand that exchanges are treated the same as them on the other. They want to see exchanges paying tax and levy at a rate that will make it easier for traditional bookies to compete, even though the exchange model is quite clearly completely different to the bookmakers model.

Rather like two tribes attempting to converse in a third language that neither is particularly proficient in this results in some pretty funny misunderstandings and misrepresentations.



It's a long piece but very well-written, and a great account of why neither side should be trusted.

And if you're old enough to remember where the title of his article came from, here's the film clip - a classic...

Bookies' share prices rising this week

What a weekend for the bookies!

Chelsea - LOST
Arsenal - LOST
Liverpool - Drew
Man Utd - Drew
Real Madrid - Drew
Bayern Munich - LOST

Racing bookmakers mightn't have been too happy with Frankie Dettori riding four winners in a row at Ascot, but their football profits, particularly from accumulators and coupons, would more than make up for that. It's always worth taking on the big names on the weekends before European action, there's regularly at least one big name which goes down, not so often a bonanza weekend like this one.

AFL Grand Final controversy

Saturday's AFL Grand Final was a marvellous conclusion to the 2010 season. Collingwood and St Kilda fought out a tremendous battle which went right down to the wire, so close in fact that it ended up in a draw, Collingwood 9.14 (68) to St Kilda 10.8 (68). Once a year followers probably expected the match to go into extra time to decide a result on the day, but they were wrong. Australia's native sport is unique in that a drawn Grand Final goes to a full replay the following week. The last time it happened was 1977, before most other sports found ways to break the deadlock. The FA Cup Final for example went to replays as recently as 1993, but the round-ball game is far more prone to stalemates. American sports always go to extra-time so there's no surprise there. The rugby codes now go to extra time, but not sure how long that has been the case.

Only three times in 115 years has the AFL (or VFL) Grand Final ended in a draw and required a replay. Some have argued it's about finding the better team on the day - which is exactly the reason why I think it should go to a replay - there was no better team, so why use a silly five-minute tiebreaker system?

I love the fact the AFL is different and is going to a full replay next weekend. I'd be gutted if I'd flown all the way back from London to watch my favourite team and then have to find a way to buy another ticket, but c'est la vie.

For betting purposes, all match betting on the h2h result would have been paid as a dead-heat. Margin betting (such as Collingwood 1-39) would always include the draw as an option so you lose, and bets on the 'Grand Final Winner' would be carried over to this week.

exchange betting in California doesn't guarantee Betfair a start

Much has been made this week of the Californian government passing legislation to allow exchange wagering on horse racing in the state. With Betfair already having a presence in California as owners of broadcast network and pari-mutuel operator TVG, and sponsoring the bill, the easy conclusion is that Betfair will start up in the USA. But a lot of water still has to pass under the bridge before a Betfair-run exchange can be licensed.

This bill also allowed pari-mutuel operators to raise takeout on Californian racing pools... so where is the logic in pushing rake up to over 20% on one hand, and bringing in a foreign company to run a business on 2-5% commission at the same time? Of course there's no guarantee Betfair would use (or be allowed to use) the same business model as they have in the UK, a market subject to far more competition.

Politicians have a history of making half-baked decisions, particularly when they are desperate for cash (the state of California is as financially healthy as Greece at the moment) and it involves gambling, a sector which invests obscene amounts into lobbying. Horsemen's groups have plenty of influence and are likely to demand either unviable rates of commission, or that a Californian racing exchange is operated by the local racing industry. That's despite Betfair having all the expertise in the industry, and access to solid liquidity from experienced exchange users. If you open an intra-state exchange only, where nobody has ever used an exchange before and there is no history of fixed-odds wagering, it will struggle. It's the chicken and egg thing - without liquidity, you can't get punters. Without punters, you can't get liquidity.

All this bill has done is opened the state up to the opportunity of exchange wagering on local racing. There's still a lot of debate and lobbying to go before punters can get excited. After all, they haven't even had the tired old debate about the ethics of laying horses to lose....

Friday, 24 September 2010

it just gets worse in Ireland

The thoroughbred industry in Ireland is worth hundreds of millions to the Irish economy, yet you'd think it was purely for ribbons judging by the regular incompetence of its ruling body, Horse Racing Ireland.

The bookie who left Listowel races last weekend owing thousands has missed his monthly fee payment to HRI by direct debit SEVEN months in a row.

Dalton: ‘HRI should not have allowed me to stand at Listowel’

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The Killarney-based bookmaker, however, maintains that HRI and it’s betting division manager, Paul Finegan, should emerge from the debacle with little credit.

Explained Dalton: "My direct debit to HRI bounced seven months in-a-row. That direct debit is for pitch fees and levy and would come to approximately €2,000 a month.

"I owed HRI €4,500 and they stood me down for two and a half months. I then got a loan for €4,000 and Paul Finegan, on behalf of HRI, took that and told me I could pay the monkey (€500) when I had it.

"I returned to bookmaking at the Curragh on the Saturday and Sunday before Listowel. I lost €2,500 on the Saturday and a friend paid that for me. I didn’t do any damage on the Sunday and then headed for Listowel.

"I went to Listowel with no money and didn’t set out to rob anyone, but was under desperate pressure.



What an utter farce. It only directly affects maybe a couple of hundred punters at most, but the stain on the industry costs far, far more. The cynical public already think bookies are crooks and any time you get one over them, no matter how much you bend the rules, is a good thing. But the negative publicity from this just adds to it, and the HRI only have themselves to blame. It appears to be the softest licensing system known to man.

Fielding as a bookmaker should be a privilege, not a right. Acquiring and holding a licence should be a difficult task with a lot of hoops to jump through. This bookie has had more than enough problems to remove his licence, and yet they just laugh it off, allowing someone who is simply the corporate version of a problem gambler to continue trading!

Bookmakers (on-course and corporate) should be forced to lodge significant monetary security bonds with the licensing body. The size of the bond should depend on the type of licence and size of the business. If a bookie is only going to hold €5k for a day at the races, then his fee should be much less than the biggest guys in the ring willing to stand €50k at a time (if there are any of those left!). On-course bookies also pay into a co-operative fund which is there to cover the debtys of any fielder who goes bust, owing punters money. This system has been in place for decades in Australia and it serves its purpose. Any bookie to have gone bust in recent decades has paid out all punters, and everyone is happy. Punters haven't been stiffed and they come back again.

Racing wants to be professional, it wants to squeeze as much money out of bookmakers as it can, money which comes directly out of the hands of punters. Punters are the customers here, they are the investors. Erode all confidence in the product (racing) and the management (HRI) and the industry is screwed. Bit by bit, HRI are on their way to achieving that goal....

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Bad eggs smear the industry

An Irish bookmaker has done a runner owing thousands after doing his arse at the recent Listowel racing festival.

Bookmaker 'on the run' after leaving Listowel owing 1000s of euros

Bookmaker Ger ‘Dixie’ Dalton is believed to have left Listowel last Saturday owing punters thousands of euros.

Horse Racing Ireland officials have been trying to contact him and have written letters but it seems Dalton is nowhere to be found after ”running out of money and unable to pay out on winning bets”.

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This may not of been a one off incident with sources suggesting that a fellow bookmaker had threatened to object to Dalton’s licence following an incident at a Clonmel coursing meeting were there was a major issue but the matter was later resolved.


To the bookie's credit, he did at least report a cashflow problem to the levy office (bookmakers' supervisor) on the course before fleeing. However, the fact this guy has had issues before will leave a very sour taste in the mouths of punters who have been stiffed. Do regulations need to be tighter? I know in Adelaide, Australia, that to field on a major racing carnival an on-course bookmaker needs to lodge a security bond of $25k. The money is fully refundable, it is specifically there to protect punters if a bookie goes bust. That is on top of the co-operative scheme where all bookmakers pay into a fund which is used to cover a failed bookmaker's debts. That is rarely used because the system is so tight, and usually only when a credit bookmaker gets caught out by a few significant non-payers (most on-course business these days is conducted over the phone rather than cash).

Do such measures exist in the UK and Ireland? They might, but I can't say I've ever heard of them. Yes, it's an additional burden on on-course bookies to bring in tighter regulation, but if it strengthens the credibility of the trade and creates a barrier of entry which puts it above rogues, then surely it is a good thing....

UPDATE

From today's Racing Post:


A Horse Racing Ireland spokesman said "We have extensive powers where we can suspend a bookmaker from betting in the ring or revoke a bookmaking licence when there is a failure to pay out on bets."


Again, a deluded racing official in Ireland. There is NO power whatsoever there at all. The guy has bolted - it's more than likely he won't becoming back because he has gone bust. Where is the protection for punters - the very people who fund the sport and the jobsworths that come up with such lame regulations and statements like these??? Any service which holds money for others - banks, financial services, bookmakers etc - should face tight regulation and have to lodge significant security bonds to protect the customers and the reputation of the industry in the case of default. Perception is everything. Every barrier to entry which keeps out rogues is valuable.

Once again, Irish racing shafts punters. Some previous blog posts about their inadequate efforts:

Why does Irish racing even bother with stewards and starters?

Need any more evidence that racing stewards are blind?

It's a very basic principle of business. You must look after the interests of the customers to keep a business sustainable. The punters ARE the business - without them, there is no money. Owners, trainers, horses, bookies etc all play their part, but they put on the show, it is the punters and ONLY the punters that fund it. So why the hell are HRI allowed to get away with not protecting punters again and again?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Andrew Black steps down from Betfair board

On the day Betfair officially announced their intention to list on the London Stock Exchange, one of the two original founders of the firm, and the one responsible for the idea, Andrew Black, has resigned from the board of Betfair. He made it public on Facebook.

This doesn't come as a surprise at all, 'Bert' had admitted some time ago that he was advised to step away from Betfair totally, otherwise he'd forever be getting frustrated with its direction now that he was no longer involved in the firm on a day-to-day basis. Now he can just sit back and enjoy what it has done to his bank balance.

Well done Bert.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Sportingbet agree US settlement - did they get off lightly?

The market seems to think that they got off lightly with a $33m settlement, they are up 12.86% already today.

Sportingbet agrees $33m US settlement

LONDON (MarketWatch) -- U.K. online gambling group Sportingbet (UK:SBT 77.75, +7.75, +11.07%) said Tuesday that it has entered a non-prosecution agreement with the Office of the United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York under which it will pay a total of $33 million. Sportingbet said that under the terms of the agreement, the Southern District of New York will not seek to prosecute the company for activities related to its Internet gambling business with customers in the U.S. from 1998 to 2006.

Considering the length of time the companies operated by Sportingbet were in that market, it seems like quite a light penalty in comparison with Party Gaming who agreed a $105m deal in 2009, although it could be argued that poker was booming at the time, and Sportingbet didn't own all of the companies breaking US law for the entire period of 1998-2006, they acquired them along the way.

Party Gaming stocks rose 20% immediately after their settlement announcement, and Sportingbet are well on the way to a similar result.

finally, the announcement

Betfair are officially floating.

Betfair planning stock market flotation

Betfair, the online sports betting provider, has said it plans to list its shares on the London Stock Exchange.

The company, which is estimated to be worth £1.5bn, was founded 10 years ago.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Golden day for lay the field players

Yesterday's racing was one to behold. I was too busy cashing in to take any screenshots, and then I decided to stop jsut after 4pm thinking that the good run couldn't continue... but it did. Even missed a 1.01 and a 1.05 later on!

Here's a look at the carnage on yesterday's UK and Irish racing, listing bottom prices matched as recorded here. This only covers the beaten horses at odds-on, there were plenty of races which had several matched at just over evens (lay three horses at less than 3.0 for level stakes = profit).

Ayr 2.20 - 1.23
Ayr 3.20 - 1.52, 1.62 (four-horse race)
Ayr 3.50 - 1.25
Ayr 4.20 - 1.08
Ayr 4.50 - 1.05
Ayr 5.20 - 1.78

Listowel 2.25 - 1.10
Listowel 2.55 - 1.53, 1.55
Listowel 3.25 - 1.81
Listowel 3.55 - 1.02
Listowel 4.25 - 1.21
Listowel 6.00 - 1.65

Pontefract 2.30 - 1.06, 1.20
Pontefract 3.30 - 1.52
Pontefract 4.00 - 1.31, 1.66
Pontefract 4.30 - 1.71

Wolverhampton 5.25 - 1.57
Wolverhampton 5.55 - 1.51
Wolverhampton 6.25 - 1.11
Wolverhampton 6.55 - 1.01, 1.64
Wolverhampton 7.25 - 1.50

Yarmouth 2.10 - 1.33
Yarmouth 2.40 - 1.10, 1.70
Yarmouth 3.10 - 1.31
Yarmouth 3.40 - 1.20
Yarmouth 4.40 - 1.49
Yarmouth 5.10 - 1.38


To revisit the theory of laying the field at odds-on in-running, look at the permanent link on the top right of the page.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

sales prospects fading for Aussie bookmakers?

Sportingbet started the trend by purchasing No1 Betting Shop from Vanuatu and then moving them to Darwin, Paddy Power got into the act by snapping up Sportsbet and IAS, and then Centrebet started preening their feathers in public trying to woo as many prospective buyers as they could. Anecdotal evidence suggests that several other Australian firms are available to buy, as most of the original owners are approaching retirement age. BWin, William Hill, Ladbrokes, 888 and others were mentioned as prospective suitors for Centrebet but it all seems to have gone very quiet lately.

BWin have tied up with Party Gaming which should keep them busy plus neither are shy about attracting Australian customers despite laws against online casino and poker operations; William Hill's online division is 29% owned by Playtech, another company with fingers in many bingo, casino and poker pies which reach Australia either organically or by targetted marketing; Ladbrokes are still involved in the bid for Victoria's retail wagering licence and are burdened by a net debt of over £500m, although they do block Australian clients; 888 is too heavily involved in non-wagering activity not to be affected by the remit of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.

Add that to the mess of the latest Federal Election which left Australia with a minority government which will have great difficulty in getting any legislative bills at all through both houses, so getting the restrictions on gaming operations and in-running betting online removed are unlikely to happen in the immediate future, despite frim recommendations from the Productivity Commission. There are too many attention-grabbing independents wanting their five minutes of fame allegedly protecting the social fabric of Australia, but really only trying to justify their existence. And PM Julia Gillard has already pledged to start cutting back on the evil poker machines (slots) in pubs and clubs, so it's hardly a surprise that foreign investors might hold off for a few years before acquiring an Australian firm. The cost of compliance, lobbying and everything that goes with it might be too much in the interim, leaving the likes of Centrebet, BetChoice, BetStar and TopSport gathering dust on the shelf.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

excitement over Betfair float cooling a little

One of Betfair's strongest allies in the press, Greg Wood of the Guardian isn't getting caught up in all the hype over the Betfair float.

What prospects are left for growth? If the economy is flat, then why are they going ahead now? Is liquidity flat-lining?


Betfair flotation may give potential investors that sinking feeling

The men who founded Betfair are gamblers at heart, and reports over the weekend that they intend to press ahead with a float suggest that their appetite for a punt has not diminished. An oft-quoted estimate of the exchange's value is £1.5bn. These are uncertain times, but if it raises much less than that, it will be seen as a gamble gone astray.

It is entirely possible that Andrew Black and Ed Wray, who own 25% of the business, are so confident about Betfair's long-term prospects that the immediate possibility of a double-dip recession is of little concern. Alternatively, it is conceivable that Betfair, in their opinion, is now as valuable as it is likely to get, and so it is time to cash in without delay.

A little over two years ago, a personal view would have been that the former explanation was much the more plausible. Now, I'm not so sure.



You have to admit, he has a point. Considering that very few of the remaining honchos at Betfair these days actually bet, and who the hell would trust investment bankers these days, is there any reason to assume they are going ahead at the right time?? Still, the only people really complaining if the £1.5bn valuation only realises £1.25bn are Softbank, the technology investment company who bought in at the peak of the market. Everyone else was in much earlier, so dropping 1/6 of perceived value in the current economy when the initial investment was significantly less won't bring too many tears.

Monday, 13 September 2010

collusion in online poker - who'd have thought of that??

It's amazing that some people are naive enough to bet or play poker without thinking somebody else has more information than them. For sports betting, it's a fact of life - unless you should actually be banned from betting because of access to insider info, then there will always be somebody who knows more than you, usually because they have done more homework, or have access to wider sources of news.

In poker, you are betting against blank faces online. Who knows what they are up to? And, as proven in every form of life where prizes are involved, there will be crooked people out there trying to get ahead by cheating. It's easy enough to track IP addresses, money trails etc, but it will be nigh on impossible to catch players colluding over instant messenger, if they aren't stupid enough to do it again and again.

BBC 5 Live radio are on the case...

Can the world of online poker chase out the cheats?

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The problem for the authorities and the gaming companies is that it is virtually impossible to prevent collusion like this, because players can share information about their hands via the phone or internet messenger without being detected.

Cheating is usually only discovered by the poker companies retrospectively when security experts establish regular patterns of behaviour involving the same players, although software is also used to flag up suspicious plays.

While most online poker games are safe, the scope for fraud is considerable, and the rapid growth of the online poker industry has left some companies struggling to keep on top of security issues.



The moral of the story - always keep your eyes and ears open, and if you suspect something is wrong, vote with your feet - go elsewhere for your gambling pleasure. (And complain if you believe you have a valid case).

Maltese regulators get tough on no-pay sportsbook

The biggest concern punters have over gambling operators based in small territories like Malta is that their law isn't tough enough and the government will happily take the tax revenue but not worry about protecting punters abroad. Cases like this are a good thing for their credibility.

Rajiv Giri Stryyke Exec arraigned


Malta recently took away the licence of Stryyke for failing to payout punters, now one of their directors has been arrested.

winter sports season around the corner and another Russian 'busted' for drugs

Shame it wasn't one of their leading female competitors, at least I can post a gratuitous photo then.

Russian cross country skier Nicholas Pankratov has been busted by Swiss customs officials for possessing intravenous equipment and 22 capsules of the drug actovegin, derived from calf blood. Actovegin is not on the WADA banned list, but has been in doping authorities' spotlight for several years.

The original article can be found here in Norwegian, use Google Chrome to translate it.

Sergei Korolev, who is head of Russia's winter sports federations, told RIA Novosti that Pankratov's possession of actovegin with the equipment for blood transfusion is a cause for sanctions unless he can prove that he has a legitimate reason to use it.

News agency reports that Pankratovs case will be handled by the International Ski Federation (FIS') anti-doping panel.

- He may be excluded for two years. If he can prove that there were health reasons to use the drug, he may go free, but it's unlikely, says Korolev.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

it's Sunday.. time to bring out Betfair float rumours again

Seriously, which part of a newspaper spouts more crap - the front page of a tabloid, the back pages with transfer rumours during the silly season or the financial pages? For the umpteenth time, a Betfair float is 'imminent' according to the Sunday Times. You can head over there to read it if you believe in Rupert Murdoch's pay-per-view business model, or you can just read one of the many reports regurgitating the same thing like this one...

Betfair gambles on £1.5bn flotation

Gaming giant Betfair is set to press ahead with a £1.5 billion stock market flotation, it has been reported.

The online betting exchange is expected to make an announcement on its plans for an initial public offering within a fortnight, according to the Sunday Times newspaper.


This story reeks of a Ronaldo or Fabregas transfer, it just keeps going on and on and the papers just keep speculating. If you keep throwing darts randomly at dates, eventually they might hit it.

If Betfair do go now, then their analysts and board don't have high expectations for the economy over the next couple of years....

UPDATE:

Rumours are very strong according to company insiders, with one former colleague plugging brokers and tax accountants to ex-employees....

Italian F1 Grand Prix preview

My beting preview for the Monza race can be found here.

The star bet can still be found at Panbet, a small UK-licensed firm, at 3.25.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A day of miracles for football layers

Don't expect to see this too often.

Man United, without Wayne Rooney after a controversial week in the press and faced with piles of abuse from the fans of his former club Everton, lead 3-1 with plenty of time on the clock. 73mins gone and they hit 1.01 on Betfair, nothing unusual about that. £217k was matched at the bottom price, and £17 at 1000 on the draw. Cue the comeback in extra time, Everton score twice within a minute and the money-buyers (punters backing 1.01 in big amounts because it's 'better than bank interest') get burnt big time!

In La Liga, Barcelona are at home to promoted side Hercules. They start incredibly short odds, as was warranted by the gulf in class between the teams....apparently! The minnows were matched between 500 and 700 to win 2-0.

And in the late Championship game, Preston North End, managed by Sir Alex Ferguson's son Darren, lead 3-1 with 6 mins to play, get matched at 1.05 and below for nearly £40k (backers wary after the lunchtime game!). PNE player Billy Jones being sent off for time wasting didn't help, and then the avalanche came.... Burnley, matched for pennies at 500, score three quick goals and win 4-3!

What a day for layers of the short prices in football (not me by the way).

None of this can happen without live betting. It sure spices things up doesn't it?


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, 10 September 2010

Big Harry goes nuts at BHA Chief Exec

A heated confrontation yesterday at Doncaster races when professional punter Harry Findlay crossed paths with BHA Chief Executive Nic Coward. The reasons behind the angst can be found here in a previous post. Findlay accused Coward of ruining his life and demanded the resignation of Coward and BHA Chairman Paul Roy.

Now, I'm not one to side with racing authorities very often, but the facts of the matter are that Harry knew the rules, and broke them - not once, which may or may not have been an accident, but twice - and that's only of the times that we know Betfair and the BHA Integrity Unit spoke. And then he had the gall to claim he had special privileges, despite all figures in the racing industry being told very firmly that using inside information to lay horses in the same stable was expressly prohibited. He was given a severe penalty which was later reduced on appeal, but he was still found guilty of the offence.

You made your own bed Harry, now you have to lie in it. Rather than blaming the BHA for your problems, perhaps you should accept the fact your penchant for hooch is frying your brain and ability to think rationally. Stop acting like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

German betting market to open up as ECJ rules monopoly as unfair

Europe's biggest and richest market, Germany, looks set for deregulation after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) yesterday ruled that "German rules do not limit games of choice in a consistent and systematic manner". The court stressed that "the holders of public monopolies carry out intensive advertising campaigns with a view to maximise profit from lotteries thereby departing from the objectives justifying the existence of those monopolies."

Germany was a messy legal and regulatory system in relation to online gambling, as provincial governments held different attitudes toward the industry. Some licences existed in the days of East and West Germany, which the unified nation refused to recognise but the licenceholders (or those who had bought into them from outside Germany) were prepared to take them to court.

Real Madrid and AC Milan had recently been either fined or forced to wear alternative strips to avoid prosecution from local authorities. Now it's a whole new ball game with the big players such as BWin/Party Gaming, Betfair, Expekt and Unibet expected to dive into the market with football sponsorship rather swiftly.

What will the government do - will they go down the line of a protectionist, (initially at least) unviable model such as in France, or a more modern approach like the proposed Danish model, which encourages competition and recognises the standards of operation in other EU member states?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Betfair float to be pushed back again?

The rumours were all saying the company was primed for an October float but lacklustre results from recent flotations may push it back to 2011 or beyond.

A study reported by The Financial Times has shown that more than half of the big "initial public offerings" in Europe this year had shares trading below their issue price, leaving investors sitting on a loss.

Betfair to play waiting game over flotation (subscription)) (free link)

THE prospects of being able to buy shares in Betfair from as soon as next month appear to have taken a knock from the performance of other Stock Market listings in 2010.

In the absence of a commitment from Betfair on its long-mooted Stock Market flotation at a value of as much as £1.5 billion, evidence from other firms appears to show the timing may be wrong.

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Preparing for such a massive sea change in the company's ownership is not without its difficulties, but thoughts that October was the favoured month for a Betfair float may need to be reassessed in the light of the post-float experience of other businesses.
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Ocado, the online service that delivers Waitrose goods, was forced to cut its flotation price from 200p to 180p and, despite that manoeuvre, shares fell by 20 per cent in just over a month.

Of 31 businesses which floated across Europe since January and which raised more than $100m, 16 were trading under issue price last Friday. The FT also reported that the average performance of six launches backed by Goldman Sachs reported to be an adviser to Betfair - was a drop (from the issue price) of 0.7 per cent.


So it could be a while yet for all those early staff members who are still sitting on their company shares....

Sunday, 5 September 2010

and it just gets deeper for Pakistan

News of the World have printed the latest series of allegations in the Pakistan cricket corruption scandal. Pakistan have had a chequered history in cricket with rumours, allegations and the odd conviction prevalent for a few decades, and before that, it was presure on home umpires to cheat - long before the neutral umpire system came in.

So on top of last week's deliberate no-balls to show the players would perform on cue, now we have Salman Butt caught with a pile of dirty money in his room, a player annoyed at not being selected accusing most of his teammates of being corrupt and then the same player denying he said anything. The football club Mazhar Majeed confessed to using a money-laundering toy is now falling apart. And it all came from a tip-off....

It's time cricket authorities, and not just the ICC, had the balls to stand up to Pakistan and tell them to piss off to the B leagues, playing the likes of Zimbabwe. If the ICC don't kick them out, then countries too soft to refuse should schedule their matches at the lowest-budget venues around. Nobody will pay money to watch them and not should they.

They have ruined the sport of cricket, and there now is too much mud being thrown for it all to be made up. The Pakistan High Commissioner has played the race card, claiming it's part of a global conspiracy against Pakistan. Nope, it's a conspiracy against people who bloody cheat and ruin a gentleman's sport enjoyed around the world. I hate racism and all it stands for, but equally I despise people who feel compelled to play the race card because they are incompetent or cannot admit the truth.

Just a tenth of the accusations being true is enough to expel them from international cricket. It goes far, far too deep to just be down to a couple of bad eggs.

Don't let your arse hit the door on the way out....

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

betting scandals galore

It hasn't been a great week for the betting industry and sporting integrity. On top of the Pakistan cricket spot-fixing scandal and today's Hereford racing farce, there have been a couple of other sports raising eyebrows.

At the US Open last night, Alexandr Dolgopolov was a huge late drifter from 3.5 out to 7 (losing 0-3 backed into 1.1) and consequently lost in straight sets to David Ferrer, a player he was very competitive against just a few weeks ago. After the match, his poor performance was put down to feeling unwell. Perhaps that's all it was, but it seems as if every man and his dog knew about it and bet accordingly. This kid has far too much talent to waste, but it's not the first match with suspicious betting patterns he has been involved in.

The big story in Australian sport has been in the NRL. Rugby league in Australia has had a few suspicious betting stories over the years, now it sounds like the authorities have finally got their act together and might do something about it. Last year, there were strong allegations that the Sydney Roosters threw the last game of the season (as slight outsiders in the match originally, the win by 13+ margin for their opponents was backed off the map and duly saluted), and in previous years there have been cases of First Tryscorer being backed off the map, particularly in Manly games. People don't bet seriously in the First Tryscorer or First Scoring Play markets unless something is fishy.

This incident was a couple of weeks ago, a match between North Queensland and Canterbury, late in the season, with neither side still able to reach the finals series. In rugby league, penalty goals are unlikely to open the scoring unless it's wet. Tries are the most common way of scoring, unlike rugby union, when a kick is quite regularly the first scoring play. These betting markets usuallly attract only a handful of bets, and nothing of serious note. However, when lumpy bets started coming in on Nth Qld penalty goal at 8.0 with bookmakers around Australia, bookies all smelt a rat. After the first few bets, particularly from punters betting 10x their normal bet size, or from punters who have prior history of being involved in games of questionable integrity, bookies pulled the market down.

Interestingly, North Queensland had the option of getting off the mark by scoring with a penalty goal, but elected to go for a try instead. My guess is they'd been tipped off that people were watching very closely. They certainly are now...

Top cops tackle betting scandal

Player agent is part of NRL bet probe


Last year it took the Victorian Government's Gambling and Corruption body to get involved to force the NRL to investigate. This year it seems they have gotten the hint, but whether anything comes of it in the form of harsh penalties is another matter.

English racing a mockery again

Am I Blue, the 33/1 outsider in the morning Racing Post forecast, with a formline of 7-0-0, wins by about 20 lengths (19 officially) in the 3.10 at Hereford after a huge, sustained gamble.

Dean Coleman, a 5lb claimer, is named to ride the horse, the money goes on (started 5/1 second favourite) and lo and behold, the jockey is replaced, and on goes leading jumps jockey Richard Johnson.

Trainer lying through her teeth after the race to say 'we haven't backed it'. Yeah sure. OK, perhaps she didn't, but it was certainly set up for a sting. Lives next to Tim Vaughan, pure coincidence that the Vaughan stable jockey goes on and it bolts in.

1 - surely an investigation is required after a horse looks completely useless in its previous three starts, and then wins by panels.

2 - it's ridiculous that a leading senior jockey is allowed to take over from a conditional jockey. Ireland and Australia have a 'like-for-like' rule - i.e. a senior jockey can only replace a senior jockey, and preferably one of similar ability/standings.

Matt Chapman on ATR after the race mixing between slamming racing for allowing to happen, and being sarcastic about the trainer's answers.

How can racing in the UK grow and thrive when crap like this is allowed to happen? Very poor for the image of the sport - when punters can not have confidence that form is genuine, then they won't bet. And when they don't bet, there's not much money going to the BHA for levy payments....

US Open tennis previews

Sorry, this is a few days late, but to be honest, not a great deal has changed in the draws. As always, you'll find my Grand Slam tennis previews published at PuntingAce - click here to read them.