Friday, 29 October 2010

ouch - that's gotta hurt!





No dodgy betting plunges here, but how on earth anyone could tip this as a winner other than using the theory of complete randomness in juvenile hurdles is beyond me. Usually horses matched at 1000 that win get matched for pennies in-running, this was a Betfair SP of 1000 (vs bookies SP of 200/1). Trained by Jennie Candlish, ridden by A O'Keefe. Sorry, never heard of either of them... until now.

Bolted in by nine lengths as well. Cue Betfair sending out a press release to boast about 400% better odds on a horse which probably five people backed in the entire country......

Thursday, 28 October 2010

nanny state Victoria to prosecute bookies for offering free bets

There's no denying that Australia is a nanny state now. Political correctness, occupational health & safety and ambulance-chasing lawyers have changed the fabric of society, almost entirely for the poorer. A couple of years ago, a constitutional challenge by corporate bookmakers and Betfair threw out the age-old ban on bookmakers advertising in states other than the one they were licensed in. It defied the constitutional notion of free trade across state borders which every other industry had benefitted from since federation in 1901. But the nanny state mentality fought back in order to protect their once state-owned monopoly TABs, with the banning of incentives for free bets - standard marketing practice anywhere else in the world.

Bookies charged for bet offers

CHARGES have been laid against three bookmakers just four days out from the biggest event of the Spring Carnival.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulaion has laid charges against three bookmaker firms over betting inducements.

Charges are expected to be laid against other firms.

Luxbet - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tabcorp - International All Sports (IASbet.com) and Eskander's Betstar have been charged with offering an inducement to open a betting account.

Under Victorian gambling laws it is illegal to offer rewards as an incentive to open a betting account.

The firms each face hefty fines with the maximum penalty for each offence set at $2,389.

IASbet allegedley offered the biggest inducements, rewarding first-time gamblers with up to $1000 in free bets.

Eskander's Betstar allegedley offered free bets of up to $500 while Luxbet allegedley offered guaranteed minimum odds on Roger Federer or Serena Williams to win the 2010 Australian Tennis Open.

The first 50 new customers to open a Luxbet account, deposit a minimum of $100 and place a fixed odds bet of up to $50 on Federer or Williams to win the Open were guaranteed the odds.



I have the utmost respect for any organisation trying to prevent problem gambling, however this is as far removed from problem gambling as banning the sport in question. Casinos and poker machines (slots or fruit machines in other parts of the world) cause the vast majority of problem gambling cases, in the region of 95%, so imposing restrictions on the GAMING part of gambling makes sense. Poker machines in Victoria and most Australia states are in plague proportions, so much so that it is virtually impossible to keep a pub viable without using the pesky things. WAGERING however is a completely different animal. There is competition between operators, there is skill involved in winning and it is possible to win long-term at it, although only a tiny percentage of punters (~5%) ever achieve that. For the vast majority of punters, it is an enjoyable pastime which doesn't need nanny state interference suppressing their ability to find better odds than the local monopoly.

Poker machines ruin lives - this is a song "Blow Up the Pokies" about it from brilliant Australian band The Whitlams. The original bass player in the band committed suicide because of his addiction to the cancerous pests.

message for the ATP - do something NOW!

Stop playing tournaments in Russia - it's that simple. No respect for authority and importantly, no prosecutable laws for sporting corruption.

The latest fix, which was actually a spoof manoeuvre, designed purely to gain better odds for the syndicate pulling all the strings. Tursunov was never going to lose this one but he's obviously been approached to tank the first set so the syndicate could get far better odds on the victory...

From Tennisform again:

26 October 2010

17:14 Tursunov has been heavily opposed on Betfair from 1.23 to 1.9 (345K matched).

19:25 Tursunov came through in three sets against Michal Przysiezny in what appeared to be yet another predetermined outcome. The Russian rolled over for the first set before Przysiezny stopped trying in sets two and three. Tursunov won 82% of his service points but the stats are totally irrelevant. The Russian drifted hugely just prior to the off, to suggest that he wasn't going to win the first set, before the money poured onto him when he was a set down. The Russian was being backed at sub-1.10 odds despite trailing by a set before starting the deciding set at a ridiculous 1.02. Przysiezny showed absolutely no sign of injury. "The first match of a tournament is always difficult to win. You have to get used to the court and the balls. I was a little nervous but I am glad that I managed to win," said Tursunov laughingly afterwards. Tursunov 3/6 6/3 6/2.

--

This is now so farcical it is turning into wrestling, with results determined by scriptwriters, or in these cases, eastern European betting syndicates. Get off your arse ATP and do something about it NOW, or risk ruining the fabric of the sport across a whole continent, like cricket is in serious danger of...

Meanwhile the mainstream press are excited about a nothing story about how a senior IMG executive had a bet on Federer (one of his clients) to win the French Open back in 2007. Such a beat-up with absolutely no question over the integrity of Federer - he was just confident he could win. How exactly is that privileged information?? At that stage little did he know that Nadal would become the invincible force he is now...

UPDATE - Another questionable match this week in St Petersburg was Yen-Hsun Lu versus Potito Starace. The Italian drifted sharply from 2.3 to around 5 by the start of the match. In-play patterns have not been reported as unusual so the assumption is that Starace wasn't fully fit again and the information was leaked. Lu won comfortably, 6-2 6-2.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Betshop sold for peanuts as parent company go down the toilet

Poor website, poor offering and overvalued - no surprises that Betshop didn't achieve the €5m asking price as their owners, Leisure & Gaming (LNG), are stone broke and desperate for a sale.

LNG forced into administration and cut price Betshop sale

Embattled Leisure & Gaming (LNG) has been placed into administration with its principal asset, Betshop Group (Europe) Ltd (BSG) sold as a going concern to Honeymead Services for €1m, less than a fifth of the price it had previously agreed with Pefaco earlier this month.


Administration statement

On 12 October 2010 specialist restructuring, recovery and insolvency firm, FRP Advisory LLP ("FRP"), on behalf of the Company, contacted 13 potentially interested parties with a deadline to receive indicative funded offers for BSG by 14 October 2010 with a view to completing both due diligence and a transaction during week commencing 18 October 2010. Separately, five turnaround funds were also contacted. The short timescale to disposal was dictated by the group's critical cash position that required an injection of circa €3m, which included €1.5m as working capital into BSG, €0.5m into the Company to deal with immediate creditors and €1m to the bank who had issued demand for repayment.

Any punter that deals with this amateur firm obviously doesn't understand the concept of value, although their bookies must be beatable...

€450k of sports betting losses were incurred in the week ending 17 October 2010, further compounding the cash position in BSG.

Although this part is just a little curious....

Discussions were held with all parties, one of which was Honeymead Services Limited, a company which is controlled by a syndicate of investors including Gabriel Chaleplis, a director of BSG. Through that process, Honeymead Services Limited increased their initial offer to €1m payable as to €500k on completion and €500k deferred over 12 months. At the same time, the remaining interested parties withdrew from the bidding process.

A director of Betshop, which happened to lose a huge chunk of its value due to severe trading losses in the week before the sale, is part of the purchasing syndicate. Could be perfectly legitimate, but just smells a little bit fishy if you ask me...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

industry news round-up

Ladbrokes have joined the list of UK firms avoiding setting up in France under the current unviable licensing structure. Several firms have simply decided not to waste their time and money in a market which will deliver nothing for several years, and only if/after the French government water down the current prohibitive licensing and taxation structure. The last straw for Ladbrokes was when the French govt decided on top of extortionate turnover tax and sports rights levies, they would also have to pay VAT as well. Unibet however, who have a similar model to Bwin, of taking vast numbers of low-stake bets, are pressing on.

The Betfair IPO is off to a good start. Conditional trading has the shares trading at around £15.30, after the initial valuation of £13. Tomorrow is the acid test for them though, when they become available to the public.

Betsson is going from strength to strength as live betting pushes their revenues higher. Bwin, Hills and Sportingbet have released similarly healthy results in recent weeks.

Eastern European bookie Fortuna raised €78.3m with their October IPO.

Tasmania are going down the route of most other Australian states by imposing race fields fees for wagering operators. Lucky all the other states have already gone down that route, there's no way they'd be able to do it if they tried to be Robinson Crusoe... Betfair Australia have set up (not sure how new this is) a site which details the facts behind Racing Industry funding in Australia, and dispels the myths and propaganda from bodies such as Racing NSW.

Two former Betfair colleagues have set up Gaming Edge Associates, an industry consultancy firm, and recently launched the company website.

And last but definitely not least, I was planning to have a big rant about the hypocrisy of British Horseracing Authority chairman Paul Roy being chairman of an investment fund which purchased £5m of Betfair shares, the same firm he has sledged and slandered repeatedly in his racing role over the Levy debate. But I simply don't think I can say it better than ATR presenter Sean Boyce in his brilliant blog post.

punting for charity

The gambling world often gets criticised for encouraging the vulnerable to waste their money with not much given back to society. Most charitable efforts by the firms aren't reported, and Betfair and Sportingbet are just two of the firms with quite substantial charitable contributions on their books each year.

But the biggest donations you ever see from punters usually comes from the media when they hire some 'experts' to make a few bets with the winnings (which are definitely not guaranteed!) going to a nominated charity. There may be others I've missed but there is rarely a co-ordinated charity betting campaign of any substance. Until now.....

PuntingAce, a website and forum I write for regularly, have been running a charity challenge for quite a while. They started with a bank of AU$125k two years ago, and are now over AU$55k in profit. And that doesn't include the annual Charity Swim one of the owners does each year to benefit a local school for children with special needs. The full list of donations and causes PuntingAce has supported over the years (over AU$50k) can be found here.

Too much is made of sensationalist stories from halfwit politicians like Nick Xenophon in Australia who see every form of gambling as evil - but of course everything the banks and financial markets do is perfectly credible. Guys like this who spend a significant chunk of their time making money for charity deserve to be applauded. Well done fellas.

more on the Volandri match

Here's what Tennisform had to say about the match yesterday.

24/10
2100 - Volandri hasn't played since retiring with a right forearm injury in the Palermo challenger earlier this month. Volandri's last match off the dirt was in this event 2 years ago, where he lost 6-4 6-4 to the Russian wild card Mikhail Elgin. It goes wthout saying that close attention should be paid to the market in his match against Gabashvili.

25/10

13:52 Gabashvili will have a 2-1 win over Volandri today if the set betting is to be believed. Nearly 60K has been matched on set betting on Betfair with plenty under 3.5 on the 2-1 option. The outright market has had plenty of interest too with the price on Gabashvili yo-yoing between 1.21 and 1.52.

18:52 Gabashvili advanced to the second round at the expense of Filippo Volandri, who didn't appear to have any intention of winning this match and acted out his part of the script well. Gabashvili was heavily supported throughout the one hour, 49 minute farce and despite playing some woeful tennis at times, the result was never in doubt. The Russian received medical attention for a knee complaint when he was trailing by a set and a break but still continued to trade below 1.20 on Betfair. Volandri threw in plenty of double-faults, errors and short balls, and even feigned interest from time to time. The Italian flexed his right wrist and sought medical attention for a forearm strain in the third set, though it looked to be a hollow gesture, and one that he will likely point to in the unlikely event that his efforts here get called into question. "It was like two different matches," said Gabashvili, who also has plenty of 'previous'. "The first one was awful and the second was normal. The reason for this was because I felt burned out before the start. But I really wanted to win my first first-round match here, especially as my opponent was not the strongest." (Forum extract) "Two fixers, in a fixer's tournament. Not much of a surprise, market was absolutely certain Gabashvili would win all the way, even when a set and a break down people were taking any odds possible. A more blatant fix than Tipsarevic last week." Gabashvili 3/6 6/3 6/2.

Monday, 25 October 2010

more dodgy tennis

The ATP have been getting slack on fixed matches this year so it's only fitting that after last week's Janko Tipsarevic fix, we've got another one going on right now in St Petersburg, in front of a huge crowd of about 20 spectators.

Filippo Volandri is obviously supposed to lose and is doing his level best to make sure that happens. He won the first set, yet Gabashvili's price to win the match shortened. Gabashvili then goes down a break in the 2nd set, takes an injury timeout for treatment on his right knee which is now strapped heavily. Volandri makes sure he can't go further ahead by throwing in two timely double-faults to lose his serve. Gabashvili wins the second set, then Volandri hands him a very soft break in the opening game of the third.

At 2-1 in the third set, the Italian conveniently calls out the trainer for treatment on his right arm and pops a pill to make it look like there are reasons for his pathetic tanking. He is now doing everything he can to lose this, deliberate errors, double faults etc... Over £2.3m has now been traded on Betfair on this awful, awful match.

The ATP and their integrity unit will have received warnings about this match while it has been in progress. They'll take a look at it and find some convenient reasons why they can't take any action against the players. Playing in a country (Russia) that probably doesn't have sporting fraud and corruption listed as a crime will be one of those reasons. And both players were injured, blah, blah, blah.... Nothing will be done.

Here's the washup. Whether the sport is actually dirty or not is almost irrelevant - it comes down to the perception. Too many events, played at the wrong time of year, serving no real purpose in the calendar other than to give journeymen a few extra chances to win (or lose) a few matches, only pours fuel on the fire.

The ATP has a real problem on its hands now....

Sunday, 24 October 2010

when a bot goes wrong

Ouch, this is messy. Peter Webb from BetAngel detailing a bizarre trading move yesterday at Newbury races. A 400/1 shot backed down to 1.08 (1/12) in pre-race betting, with no logic behind it whatsoever, it could only be a mistake.

Fat fingers crucify punter

£27k alone backing the 400/1 shot at 1.08 - you can't get that back!

And it wasn't an omen either - the horse ran third last, beaten over 20 lengths.

Bots can be brilliant when they have been properly tested and work perfectly, but by golly, they can be expensive when they go wrong. 

Friday, 22 October 2010

yet another US track star busted for doping

Unfortunately it always seems that the positive tests don't seem to come out until AFTER their careers are finished. In the 80s it was still a Cold War thing and positive tests were swept under the carpet. It has only been the last 20 years that American athletes, the really good American athletes not just lower-ranked scapegoats, have started being busted for steroid abuse (or other banned substances). Yet the hysteria and suspicion still lies with the 'unknown' or the evil enemy, namely Russia or China.


Former US Champion Clay banned for doping violations


(Reuters) - Former U.S. 200 meters champion Ramon Clay has been suspended for two years for using steroids and other banned substances from 2000-04, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said Friday.

So in recent years from the US, we've had Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin, Antonio Pettigrew, C.J. Hunter, Tim Montgomery, Kelli White, Jerome Young....

For a full list of doping cases in athletics, visit Wikipedia

Repeated doping violations in the US, and the ridiculous amount of time it takes to catch these cheats, just darkens the legacy of champions like Edwin Moses and Michael Johnson.

At least some sports have recognised major issues with doping, namely weightlifting, and have been prepared to dish out extreme penalties - banning whole nations for repeated positive drug tests. Will we ever see it in athletics for the USA or biathlon for Russia? There's more chance of a man swimming across the Atlantic unaided....

Rooney to stay - was it all a beat-up?

Bookies in the NorthWest are going into panic mode (or is it that media stir-up mode) with news that there has been strong support for Wayne Rooney to stay at Man Utd this morning. Hills reported 7/4 into 4/9 before suspending the market, several others have followed suit. Not much money on Betfair for it, but after a high of 4.0, the Yes to Stay option is now into 1.08!

UPDATE - Two mins later, the announcement that a new five-year contract has been signed. Ho-hum....

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

tennis gets crooked.... again

There's nothing like an end-of-season ATP event to bring out the crooked betting patterns. Throw in an Argentinian facing an eastern European and you have a recipe for disaster... or a perfect set-up, depending on which side of legality you are cheering for.

From the highly valuable subscription service, Tennisform

Zeballos came through in a highly suspicious 3 sets against Janko Tipsarevic, who judging by the pre match and in play betting on Betfair had no intention of winning. Tipsarevic drifted markedly in the Betfair market in the hour before the match started eventually going off the underdog and despite winning the opening set and appearing to be the better player in the second set he was still odds against with Zeballos trading at 1.25 prior to the start of the final set. Some bookies have reportedly voided the match. Tipsarevic said afterwards that he felt a pain in his back in yesterday’s doubles match and today things only worsened. "My opponent was trying to make me run from left to right, and I could not do this. That’s why I tried to play “serve’n’volley” which is so out of character for me," Tipsarevic said. "I have three more tournaments to play this season and I do want to be 100 % fit for the next one in St. Petersburg." (Forum extract) "Here the money clearly knew he was going to tank, even when he was winning." Zeballos 4/6 6/4 6/3.

After the match, Tipsarevic claimed on Twitter to have choked on the key points.

"Biggest choke EVER...All my life playing like shit when I defend the points(finals here last year)on the same week...sigh...no comment..."

Then said in the press conference he had been injured in a doubles match the previous day. "If it was another tournament, not the Kremlin Cup, then I have would have pulled out, but I really enjoy playing in Moscow" ... ""My opponent was trying to make me run from left to right, and I could not do this. That’s why I tried to play “serve’n’volley” which is so out of character for me," Tipsarevic said. "I have three more tournaments to play this season and I do want to be 100 % fit for the next one in St. Petersburg."

Pre-match, the Serb drifted from 1.18 (82% chance of winning) to 2.20 (45% chance) with strong liquidity, not just small chance. And it's not as if Tipsarevic has a clean record when it comes to dodgy tennis...

July 17, 2009 from Tennisform again. "Fears over match-fixing in men's tennis have surfaced for the third time in a month after "extreme movements" in betting patterns on a match between two top 100 players led to cancellation of markets and reports to the authorities. A flood of "unusual" money was placed on Spain's Oscar Hernandez, the world No 56, to beat Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, the world No 79, in straight sets in the first round of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart on Tuesday. High street firms including William Hill suspended betting, while Betfair reported "extreme movements" as abnormal sums were matched on Hernandez. The Spaniard won 6-4, 6-4. The match has been referred to the Gambling Commission and to the sport's in-house Tennis Integrity Unit for investigation. The case is at least the sixth in men's tennis in 2009 to be referred to the GC, the TIU or both."


For those who read this and aren't familiar with the betting elements here and how big an issue this is, here's the case against Tipsarevic:

1 - major drift in the betting against him just before the match.

2 - when he wins the first set, he is even more of an outsider. In a three-set match between two players priced fairly evenly, the winner of the first set should move from 2.0 into around 1.33. Instead, Zeballos who started the match at around 1.8, got shorter after LOSING the first set and then shortened dramatically into 1.25 for the start of the final set. If the match was so even, then it would be reasonable to expect Zeballos would only be a marginal favourite.

3 - ooh, I choked. What a cop-out.

4 - bookmakers aren't stupid. Most suspicious betting comes from the same sources - accts they watch very closely and use as their warning system. When these guys get involved when the odds aren't logical, something is up.

5 - he has a history of such scams, and nothing was done about it.

If it was betting people knowing he was injured pre-match, then the fluctuations wouldn't have been so severe during the match. Sometimes it happens that a player isn't as hurt as they thought and can play a lot better. The evidence is very compelling that it was lot more than that. Betfair continued to trade throughout, with significantly higher volumes than usual, and if called upon, their data will be shared with the ATP and Tennis Integrity Unit. But if past events are anything to go by, nothing will happen. The ATP love getting involved in suspending players for six months for placing €5 bets, but when a genuinely fraudulent match comes up, they crap themselves....

UPDATE - Two hours after the 'choked' tweet, Tipsarevic had obviously been copping some abuse on Twitter..

"Hmmm...Should I really keep this Twitter accout (sic)..."

Oh, and if you think this is an isolated event because I haven't reported one for a while - don't be fooled. It just gets stale after a while....

Here's a link to the in-running odds early in the second set. At that point of the match (Zeballos one set down but a break up) the odds should have reverted to roughly what they were at the start of the match.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

this just in - FIFA is corrupt. Next story - water is wet!

Is anyone actually surprised that there are stories in the press today about FIFA Executive Committee members, the guys who vote on the venues for the World Cup, are taking bribes to secure their votes for World Cup bids? Two members, named as a member from Nigeria and the President of Oceania Football Federation, have been caught out by a newspaper investigation. Of course the money wasn't 'supposed' to be going directly to them, but to fund some domestic football project they'd take a nice fat bung out of along the way.

Newspaper investigation reveals FIFA officials offered to sell World Cup votes

Two FIFA officials have offered to sell their votes on which country will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, according to a newspaper report.

The Sunday Times newspaper alleged that Amos Adamu, a Nigerian member of the world football governing body's executive committee, asked for $US800,000 ($A807,007) to endorse one of the bid candidates.

It filmed him meeting with undercover journalists posing as lobbyists for the United States, in which he apparently offered a "guarantee" to vote for the US bid in the 2018 event in return for money for a personal project.

The newspaper also said Reynald Temarii, a FIFA vice-president and president of the Oceania Football Confederation, wanted $NZ3 million ($A$2.28m) for a sports academy.

He allegedly boasted that supporters of two bid committees had already offered Oceania money to swing his vote.

Such deals are strictly forbidden under FIFA rules, but the newspaper said six senior officials, past and present, had told the undercover reporters that paying bribes offered their best chance at securing their bid.



With all the bumbling and stubbornness amongst FIFA at the World Cup, is anyone surprised? They've got the most pigheaded buffoon in charge. But corruption within major sporting bodies which rely on crusty old officials from all over the world to vote on major decisions isn't a new thing. It's what the IOC went through in the days of Juan Antonio Samaranch so at least there's hope for them to turn it around in the future....

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Chilean miners

How nice is it to have the world united and excited behind the successful rescue efforts in Chile? So rare to see good news stories these days, particularly on such a global scale. Every other 'good' story seems to have a negative side - people complaining about the cost of the Olympics in London, or the people who were trodden on along the way when one person (or company) makes it big. Even when it's a massive sporting success, such as winning the World Cup or something, there always seems to be an idiot element that ruin things for others. And let's not forget, there are people out there who bizarrely don't like sport.

Nice to have a reality check occasionally and to applaud the brilliant engineering behind the rescue mission. And great to see that it's not just the big Western nations who are capable of doing it. Just imagine how much different the rescue scenes would be if it was in the UK or America. The media circus would be on a ridiculous scale and the tabloid papers would have found ways to smear almost everyone involved....

French sports betting regulations aren't working

Complaints this week in Monaco at the first gaming industry conference centred upon France with Mangas (BetClic, Expect, bet-at-home) CEO Nicolas Beraud claiming the anti-problem gambling directives from the French government are actually having the reverse effect - players lose their money quicker with higher margins and thus want to bet more as they chase their losses....

French player returns uncompetitive says Mangas boss

Mangas Gaming chief executive Nicolas Beraud has called for the French authorities to increase what it currently allows to pay back to players, as the current 85% limit is failing in its publicly declared aim of protecting the consumer.

Speaking yesterday on the Online Sports & Horse Betting Markets panel at France’s first ever egaming conference, Monaco iGaming Exchanges, Beraud said: “Today, we cannot give better than an 85% return to the player, which means the odds are not competitive compared to other markets. It is an incentive for players to try to play on foreign websites, and the customers can lose their money much more quickly than previously.

“The excuse to have this 85% was to protect the consumer, but what we are seeing is the customer is instead losing his money more quickly and is actually playing more.”

Speaking on the same panel, Emmanuel de Rohan Chabot, chief executive of horse racing tote operator ZEturf observed of current tax and payback conditions that if “there wasn’t such a difference in pressure between the legal and illegal worlds, it would not be so hard to keep the punter inside the French market, and it is a hard job.”

Chabot told the audience: “In between the ZEturf.com and the ZEturf.fr we are on now, the average punter is losing €110 a month when he used to lose just €60 a month. The objective of reducing gaming addiction and risk is clearly a failure on that point, so I am completely with Nicolas on that one.”


Of course, from the side of the monopoly, another panellist blamed the problem on lack of sanctions against firms not licensed in France, which completely misses the point. Fat margins do nothing to protect punters - gambling addicts are more often, but not always, people with poor comprehension of the percentages behind gambling. While they still think they have a chance of winning, they will keep playing, and the more expensive it is in terms of margins, the more it will cost them in the long run.

An 85% return to punters is poor (117.6% overrround if you prefer to see it the other way around). That's uncompetitive on 1x2 football markets, so it's completely pointless for two-way sports like tennis( - although PMU.fr are listing tennis h2h markets at 112% so there may be some concession for two-way markets?).

Racing NSW desperation stakes fails again

Racing NSW, the administrators of what should be the strongest racing in Australia, have shot themselves in the foot yet again as they desperately try to patch up the damage they have caused through pigheadedness and sheer incompetence over the past couple of decades.

Merging racing clubs is the latest buzz strategy in Australian racing - the two metropolitan race clubs in Brisbane were able to do it (purely logical considering the two racecourses were literally across the road from each other), so NSW thought they should follow suit. It gets complicated though because the AJC (Australian Jockey Club) think their shit doesn't stink and any form of 'merger' with the STC (Sydney Turf Club) would reek of a takeover. Amazingly, the AJC members all voted for the merger, as all the benefits would go to them, a $150m grandstand at Randwick. No surprise when the STC voted against the move because of concerns about one of their tracks, Canterbury, being sold off, and worries about key races at Rosehill being moved to Randwick to justify the new bohemiath of a grandstand.

The funniest part though is where the money was supposed to come from. NSW racing is broke. Peter V'Landys and his team of buffoons at Racing NSW are pissing away the lot in court fighting battles which just a basic understanding of competition laws tells you they can't possibly win. So rather than being funded by profits from racing, or from a government grant, the funding for this lavish new grandstand (designed to bring the crowds back to racing) has been posted by TABCorp, a supposedly independent body, in return for selling off their share of the profits in a virtual racing game, Trackside - which will encourage people to stay away from the track and bet on cartoons....

Trackside Bid Runs Off The Rails

The vote last night by Sydney Turf Club members against a merger with the Australian Jockey Club represents the latest in a string of calamities bedeviling the "crash through or crash" management of the industry by Racing NSW.

Characterised by an almost embarrassing subservience to the wishes of TabCorp and ignoring the requirement to consider the public interest set down in the Racing Administration Act, Racing NSW has been brought to account by a handful of STC members who basically said "we've had enough of this stupidity".

Two years ago we saw the race fields debacle unfold.

It wasn't enough for Racing NSW to bring in a payment arrangement for corporate bookmakers, Betfair and interstate TAB's. In collusion with TabCorp the race fields levy system was tricked up to put low margin operators out of business.

While the final appeal judgment is not yet to hand, the outcome is sufficiently uncertain that Racing NSW has had to go searching for a new pot of gold in the meantime.


If you have any interest in this issue, read the full story from Cyberhorse. It's unbelievable that a government-appointed racing body can be so arrogant and naive to think they can get away with such conduct, and outrageous that the government lets them get away with it....

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Money-buyers sweating again

Spain leading Scotland 2-0 after 55mins, you'd think there was no chance of the best team in the world giving up that lead against a relative minnow like the Scots....


£166k matched at 1.01 is a lot of money sweating a result now that Scotland have scored two goals to equalise.



And just as I post this, Spain have again taken the lead, but there's still plenty of time on the clock.

Belgium scored twice in the closing minutes to come from behind against 10-men Austria, and looked like they pinched the game 4-3...


but someone forgot to tell Austria, who scored in injury time to level it up at 4-4. That's a lot of cash at short odds down the drain. Short-odds layers are grinners once again.

Monday, 11 October 2010

and you thought 6 seconds delay on AtTheRaces was bad....

An appalling situation in Australia showing a clear abuse of power by a major TV network. The Bathurst 1000 is a hugely popular motor racing event which has been broadcast live around the nation since it began in the 1960s. As a kid I used to park myself in front of the TV at 7.30am when the coverage started and not move until 5pm after the chequered flag had been waved. Only several beers on Saturday night stopped me from watching the live coverage in the UK in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The host broadcaster decided that making money from advertisers was more important than showing the race live, so what began as a live event, ended up nearly 30 minutes behind by the end of the race.

Channel Seven broadcasts finish of Bathurst 1000 30 minutes after race actually ended

THE Bathurst 1000 became the race that delayed a nation after Channel 7 put the advertising dollar before its audience.

Channel 7's "live" coverage of the Bathurst 1000 was so significantly delayed that despite the race finishing at 4.53pm, they were still "racing" on television until 5.20pm.

Angry motor racing fans bombarded social media sites to blast Seven's coverage.

The network's coverage of Bathurst started out live, but the broadcaster paused and restarted the action to suit its ad breaks.

Normally advertising is slotted in during lulls of the action to prevent delays, but this year Seven struggled to find space.

While Seven blamed the lack of safety cars, fans on Twitter pointed the finger back at the network for over-committing itself with advertisers.



A motor race lasting over six hours, and yet they couldn't find room to put the ads in?? Morons.



"The closeness of the race, the reduced number of safety cars in today's race, advertising commitments and our desire that viewers not miss a single moment of the race led us to time-shift our coverage," the spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.



Pretty naive to schedule ad breaks during safety cars when you have incidents like this spectacular crash which lead to replay after replay, followed by deep analysis about how it happened and how the driver managed to survive!

Currently, Australian residents are banned from betting online during sporting events, something which is standard fare around the rest of the world, and now accounts for more than 50% of sports bets with most online bookmakers. Imagine the outrage in the UK if a network tried to get away with this. It's bad enough in Australia when different states have different broadcast schedules (but still say 'live') or when Friday night football is broadcast an hour late just so the network can squeeze in plenty of ads, but when they start events as live and then dupe viewers into thinking it will remain that way while they squeeze as much as they can from their sponsors, that's outrageous.

I'm led to believe few sporting events broadcast on free-to-air networks in Australia are exempt from this, but Channel 7 is the prime offender. Corporate greed with no respect for their end customers, that's all it comes down to.

If you are ever going to bet on live sport, look for as many sources of 'live' information as you can - TV, radio (always the fastest broadcast medium), internet streams, Twitter and anything else you have access to for comparison. And don't forget watching the odds change - if they don't match your opinion of the event, then be suspicious. Remember it's your money, other people will be more than willing to take it off you and you never have to bet.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Betfair devise offshore plan

Hardly a surprise here as Betfair draw up contingency plans to move offshore if the UK Govt doesn't change tax laws. Every other UK firm has done it in some form or another to avoid/minimise paying tax and levy, but I doubt they'd go ahead with it anytime soon.

Who'd be a politician? The economy is screwed because of the previous government and the greed of the banks, if you even attempt to introduce any measures to increase tax revenues or rein in the lavish rewards of that industry, they all threaten to head abroad, and now the gambling industry wants to pay even less tax.

Ask not what your country can do for you, but how you can screw it up even further....

Betfair considers offshore move

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Harry makes sense - poor prizemoney opens the door to corruption

It really isn't rocket science - when the rewards for competing are poor, then corrupt influences are more likely to be listened to. Sport at the biggest level - the Premier League, NFL, the Olympics, Group I races etc, has little problem from corrupt gambling influences. The incentive to win is so great that competitors are more likely to cheat to win, via performance-enhancing substances or illegal equipment. But when a sport is specifically run for betting and the prizes for competitors are so poor, then can you really blame someone for being tempted by corrupt influences?

Harry Findlay reckons horse racing's 'poverty' prize money could lead to corruption


Professional gambler Harry Findlay warned on Friday that "poverty" prize money could lead to an increase in corruption in racing.

Findlay said that a drop in prize money is likely to lead jockeys, trainers and other racing professionals to be more likely to bend the rules, or susceptible to approaches from corrupt individuals.

"I believe that the powers that run racing have got some people in racing into such a distressed state, with low prize money meaning people are losing their jobs and having houses repossessed, that it could lead people to corruption," Findlay said during a debate on integrity at the Leaders in Football conference in London.

"There are two races at Wolverhampton tonight with £1,300 prize money, and there's a couple more that just over £2,600, that's scandalously low when you consider what trainers have to spend to get horses to the line."


The BHA is treading a very fine line - it wants to stamp out corruption and has been highly visible in the way it prosecuted the Findlay case (re trading his own horse) earlier in the year and the Casela Park non-trier case this week. That stance is commendable IF they are completely consistent and do everything they can to provide a natural deterrent to breaking the rules. Will the Casela Park case (trainer Eamonn Tyrell and jockey Jason Behan were banned for three years) become a line in the sand so that now we will see several cases each month of trainers being pulled up with non-triers? Not a chance. Will the Findlay case lead to other convictions, more consistency or clearer rules? Unlikely.

The most natural deterrent to dodgy activity is making the prizes as valuable as possible, not wasting money in court rooms. Close some racecourses, stop running races for horses too slow to pull carts and stop wasting money prosecuting cases unless the BHA is 100% prepared to draw a line in the sand and be consistent and transparent with the cases it pursues. All this other headline-chasing stuff such as moving Champions Day to Ascot really is irrelevant until they underpin the base of the industry.

the Netherlands opens up to online gambling

The most ardent opponent to online betting in recent years, the Netherlands, looks like finally dropping its resistance to the industry and introducing legislation to regulate it. In recent years Ladbrokes and Betfair have spent a lot of time pursuing court cases in the Netherlands and at the EU to force the Dutch to drop their hypocritical stance, banning foreign operators but allowing a state monopoly to extort criminal margins from local residents.

A new government has just been elected and with it comes sweeping changes.

Internet gambling released

THE HAGUE - Gambling on the Internet is released. The government thinks so, Rutte eventually hundreds of millions of dollars per year to get.

Reported that sources in The Hague. The right-wing government wants licenses to sell or auction among interested companies. The revenues of 100 million euros on per year, but were up to 270 million euros per year increase.


Translate the article in Google Chrome if you want to read the full story.

This will be a welcome change for Dutch citizens. I know of at least one professional gambler from the Netherlands who moved to another country simply to continue playing with some of his preferred bookmakers.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Racing Queensland sees common sense, Racing NSW now Robinson Crusoe

As Racing NSW fights desperately to hang onto its ridiculous racefields legislation based on turnover tax and discriminating against competitive operators, Racing Queensland have seen common sense and elected to follow the Victorian model.

One-horse maiden against corporate bookies

RACING NSW, the men and women who would run racing in Australia (and thank God they don't), has been further marginalised in the battle of philosophies on how best to make all the sport's stakeholders pay their way.

The new ruling body of greyhounds, trots and thoroughbred racing in Queensland has struck an important agreement with corporate bookmakers on how to collect fees for using the state's race fields.

And it is not the one that Racing NSW has spent a fortune in court fees to establish and defend. Racing Queensland has fallen into line with Victoria and other racing jurisdictions which use a gross revenue formula to collect product fees.


The Racing NSW v Betfair and Sportsbet appeals may take until 2011 before decisions are released, but it's fairly obvious what the rest of industry thinks will happen. Peter V'Landys is single-handedly destroying horse racing in NSW with his pig-headed and outdated ideas.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Bwin finally making a move in the UK

Global gaming giant Bwin have finally decided to have a serious crack at the UK market. After years of ignoring the UK because of the maturity of the local market, they have hired several experienced UK folk to bring them into the fold. Earlier this year Bwin bought into the Oddschecker listings, but haven't covered horse racing.... until now.

How popular that will be in the UK, where punters expect to be allowed a decent bet is unknown. Bwin is a firm which in the past has banned all customers who were employed by other gambling firms, campaigned the Greek government to set a pitiful MAXIMUM stake in order to block competition, pathetically tried to welsh on paying out an Aussie client because he was beating them betting in-play, and numerous other controversial or even indefensible actions - search any betting forum for their previous black marks.

They might have a massive advertising budget, but they have a lot of work to do to gain market share in a mature UK market which expects better service.