Saturday, 26 February 2011

yet another England footballer scandal

... to be broken by News of the World at 2215 GMT. Front and back page apparently. You think these overpaid prats would learn one day.

Nope, it's Ashley Cole again, allegedly shooting someone. Speculation that it's anyone from a Chelsea backroom staff member to a 21yo fan. And with something as 'soft' as an air rifle.

So next information to break will be that they were out paintballing or something lame like that?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Betfair share price back into freefall

Another broker says sell, another week of dreadful unplanned site outages, another marketing campaign criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority.... It's not looking good for Betfair shareholders, now trading in the 850p range, getting dangerously close to half their market peak of 1610p just a few months ago.


The Cricket World Cup is underway and Cheltenham's just around the corner - a few folks in the ivory tower will be praying for some record figures, otherwise there has to be some blood spilling from the board room soon as the value of the company continues to slide.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Some days I'd love to be a judge

When I was at high school, I fancied the idea of being a lawyer, probably from watching too much LA Law. Once I got to uni I realised it was never going to happen and soon changed my career plans (which I then did a few more times before stumbling into the betting industry, an option I never thought possible as a youngster). All the paperwork and tedium of law put me right off it, not to mention the work involved when all I wanted to do was enjoy my first years in a big city.

But the idea of being a judge, having a platform to tell people they are fuckwits and should be punished for it is much more appealing. Particularly when their defence is simply pathetic and should be laughed out of court.

Take the front page of today's Racing Post, the case of experienced veterinarian James Main, who admitted injecting one of Nicky Henderson's horses with a banned blood-clotting agent on raceday back in 2009. Henderson was banned for three months as a result.

Main's case was "we didn't think we had administered anything terribly illegal" and claimed he was unaware of the rule which effectively bans anything other than feed and water on a raceday. This is a member of two BHA committees and a veterinary adviser to the British Trainers' Federation claiming to not to know of the most important rule in the book for a vet. And he claims to be deeply shocked and disappointed to have been struck off the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons register.

If you're that incompetent at knowing the framework of your job, then it's time you became a binman....

This case was heard by his industry body, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. One can only wonder how soft the penalty would have been if a racing body was hearing the case - "oh, that's ok, it's perfectly acceptable not to know how to do your job. If the rules weren't delivered to you by royal decree then obviously you can't be expected to have read them. Take a holiday for a couple of weeks and then come back and be your incompetent self again....."

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Monday, 21 February 2011

Daytona trading last night

No marvellous green book to show off this year, although it was a decent profit on turnover considering how little liquidity was on Betfair. Being on Premier Sports for the first time didn't help since very few people have subscribed to it, plus the Betfair site has been dodgier than the BBC's 'The Real Hustle' recently. It was easy enough to get a live stream but I doubt many others would have bothered. It's not the most popular sport outside of the US anyway, and also having to deal with a toddler who didn't want to go to bed before 11pm made it incredibly difficult to trade! I'd emptied most of my acct recently, so I'm more than happy with a £45 green book from a £60 balance.

Same old theory for low liquidity, many runner events. Just keep putting up half-decent offers for small stakes. Increase the size of the lays as you create more green on the other runners. Don't get over-competitive (let someone else jump ahead of you in the queue if they are desperate to get matched and give away value). Don't lay one selection heavily, spread the risk as wide as you can. Lay as many selections as you can, I think I matched 17 drivers all up.

Bookies would have loved it in the end, the drivers who ran 1-2-3 were unexpected - a 20yo rookie in only his second NASCAR drive, Trevor Bayne, took the win; Carl Edwards, a decent mid-field runner came second and David Gilliland at huge odds ran third. Daytona is ripe for longshot wins due to the evenness of the racing - restrictor plates around the long circuit keep the pack together, the fastest cars can't break clear like in regular motor races.

Next events to use a similar trading system - televised ladies or senior golf tournaments, Eurovision or even BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Professionalism in racing

Glad to see the rescheduled meeting going ahead at Newbury tomorrow. Awful scenes last Saturday with the freak electrocution of two horses before the first race. You just can't write procedures in a manual to deal with something as bizarre and unexpected as that. Criticising the officials for running the first race after that is easy in hindsight.

One thing that British racing needs to get right though is its professionalism. Jockey Hadden Frost on Tuesday went for home a lap early in a three-mile chase and then ended up with egg on his face when crossing the finish line only meant he had a lap left to go. The jockey made a mistake, fair enough. But to let him off with just a slap on the wrist isn't good enough. This is a professional industry. Punters lost tens of thousands on that horse across the country; they get nothing back for his incompetence. Stewards said the penalty range for this infringement was just 10-14 days, so he got the midpoint of 12 days. Soft as butter.

This isn't the first time it has happened, and it won't be the last. Do racecourses make any effort to stop this from happening? Nope. Why not look at other sports and see what they do? Harness racing around the world has races over a few laps, as does athletics. What do they both use to make it clear there is one lap to go? They ring a bell as they pass the winning post the penultimate time. Crystal clear. It doesn't even need to be a real bell which requires someone to stand there, it could be electronic and activated remotely. IT ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE.

Just like when jockeys take the wrong course in a jumps race when they are supposed to know exactly where to go. Jockeys should do their homework for every race at every course, it's their job. But, in the heat of the moment, they can lose concentration and their minds go blank. It happens to all of us at some stage. Why not do everything feasible to avoid it like put out a few traffic cones where they switch course? It's not that hard. Start looking at racing like a business rather an amateurish hobby and so much can change.

I've harped on it before and will say it again. If British racing wants to become stronger then it has to stop taking the piss with punters. It's a professional industry, if you want it to be treated as such, then start acting like it from within. Punters deserve better, and when that happens, bookies will be more willing to contribute to funding the sport...

Monday, 14 February 2011

bent pointless international friendlies - who'd have thought?

Two games played in an international friendly double-header at a Turkish resort, none of the teams involved are ranked in the FIFA Top 50, and no local representation either.

Gee, doesn't sound fishy at all. Oh, and all SEVEN goals across the two matches were from penalties....

FIFA to probe friendly matches

FIFA have opened an investigation into last Wednesday's international friendly double-header in Antalya after heavy betting was discovered following the award of seven penalties in the two games.

Bulgaria and Estonia played out a 2-2 draw hours after Latvia had beaten Bolivia 2-1 at the Turkish resort, with all seven goals coming from the spot.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Annoying and misleading Betfair TV ad banned

You seriously have to wonder where the brains department of Betfair have disappeared to. A TV campaign based around the theme 'cut out the middleman'. Look it up in the dictionary - Betfair are the irrefutable definition of the word:

mid·dle·man   

[mid-l-man]
–noun, plural -men.
1.
a person who plays an economic role intermediate between producer and retailer or consumer.
2.
a person who acts as an intermediary.


So what else do Betfair do then??



The Advertising Standards Authority yesterday banned the ad after a series of complaints, stating that the advert was misleading and conveniently forgot to mention they take out a commission.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Farcical law to suppress honesty in the media

Former jockey Dean McKeown was as bent as a three-bob note and was warned off British racecourses in 2008 for his role in pulling up 11 horses trained by Paul Blockley. He is guilty, that part is etched in stone. Yet ATR presenter Sean Boyce is facing defamation charges for calling a spade a spade, or in this case, a crook a crook.

McKeown's efforts on Rascal in the Mix in November 2008 when fulfilling a previously booked mount before his ban took effort were abysmal. It was a hook job and Boyce was not afraid to call it as it was. McKeown took a battering in the phone interview before eventually hanging up.

The High Court, and in particular, Justice Tugendhat, have shown how ridiculous the law is by allowing McKeown to sue one of a select few racing media men who have the balls to rid the world of ambiguous bullshit and cut to the facts of the matter.

Four years isn't enough for McKeown, people like this should never be allowed to return to the industry.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Monday, 7 February 2011

Even sumo is bent these days...

It's not a good sign for the innocence of the world if even sumo wrestling is facing match-fixing problems....

Sumo wrestling rocked by match-fixing scandal

The head of Japan's sumo association has apologised to fans after it was revealed wrestlers may have been fixing matches.

In some of the text messages uncovered by police, wrestlers would tell their opponents what to expect inside the ring while others would instruct their rivals to throw a match.

One wrestler texted another: "You fall when I move to tackle."

It is just the latest scandal to tarnish this ancient sport, with dozens of wrestlers last year admitting to placing illegal bets on baseball with the Japanese mafia.



A culture where gambling is illegal, the participants like a bet on other sports with the black market bookies and then they get blackmailed into throwing matches so they aren't exposed for breaking the law...

(Cheers to Richard Farmer for the link)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

is sport finally starting to win the fight against corruption?

Could sport be fighting back against the corrupt individuals who wish to poison their respective games to line their own pockets? Encouraging signs this week with cricket and rugby league both acting to stem the tide.

In cricket, first the British Crown Prosecution Service announced it was charging the three Pakistan cricketers with obtaining and accepting corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat. Bear in mind that the CPS was the authority who were laughed out of court when trying to convict leading jockey Kieran Fallon of pulling horses a few years ago. Let's hope they've got their act together since then. Long drawn out cases which ultimately fail ruin reputations and make lawyers rich.

A day later, the ICC have come down hard on the three players, with minimum suspensions of five years. Expect appeals from each player pleading their innocence first, and then for leniency. There's legs in this case yet, but it's encouraging to see the ICC impose serious penalties.

In rugby league this week, charges have finally been laid in the NRL betting scandal from last season. Ironically, the player charged, Canterbury front-rower Ryan Tandy, hasn't been charged with conspiracy or sporting fraud, but giving false evidence police which is a much more serious charge in NSW. Tandy's agent and people connected to him are alleged to have bet heavily on North Queensland (the opposing team) scoring the first points of the match with a penalty goal. Tandy gave away a penalty directly in front of the posts after just two minutes, but the other team, unaware of the planned sting, chose to take a quick tap instead and go for the try.

Let's hope football, racing and tennis can get their acts together and follow suit where applicable. Tennis prides itself on using a sledgehammer to crack nuts - suspending guys for a year for placing €5 worth of bets, yet does sweet FA when blatant match-fixing occurs. UK football authorities have handed out some pathetically lame penalties for players found betting against their own team (the infamous Bury v Accrington Stanley game from a few years ago). Horse racing in the UK has recently been beating their own chest about the Casela Park case. It's all well and good to suspend guilty parties, but when the perception is one rule for the minnows of the sport and another for those with a higher profile, it defeats the purpose....

Saturday, 5 February 2011

OUCH!

I love listening to managers like Arsene Wenger moaning about referees and anything else they can blame their problems on.... How do you explain this one Voyeur? Arsenal led 3-0 after 10 mins and 4-0 at half-time. Newcastle scored four times in the second half to draw level. Final result 4-4.


Over £1m matched at 1.01/1.02.... That's a gubbing of enormous proportions...

(Voyeur is a Special1TV reference if you were wondering)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Betfair gets closer to cracking the US

News today that the governor of New Jersey has signed a bill permitting exchange betting within the state. It's not a given for Betfair or any other company trying to operate a betting exchange on horse racing, it just allows the possibility of such betting platforms. I posted a whole batch of reasons a month ago why investors in particular shouldn't be counting their chickens just yet.

Here's the story from US racing bible, the Daily Racing Form.

New Jersey governor Christie signs exchange-betting bill

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed bills on Monday that will legalize exchange wagering and a new method of pooling parimutuel wagers, the governor's office said on Monday. Both bills were supported by elements of the racing industry as the state continues to pursue ways to help the state's beleaguered gambling industries.

Christie also vetoed a bill on Monday that supporters said would streamline the process by which offtrack betting locations are approved and built. In a statement released by his office, Christie said that he exercised a "conditional veto" of the bill because the state is continuing to negotiate the possible sale or lease of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority's two racetracks, Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands, and the bill could have negative consequences on those efforts unless reworked.

As written, the offtrack betting bill gives horsemen's groups and other private operators the right to pursue licenses for offtrack betting locations if all of the unused licenses are not issued by the end of 2011. In the statement, Christie said that potential buyers or lease-holders of the racetrack would need assurances that they would be able to pursue the licenses on a realistic time scale.

"I am recommending that the legislation be revised to clarify that negotiations concerning the transfer or assignment of offtrack wagering locations in the context of a potential sale or lease of a racetrack shall be deemed 'progress' toward the establishment of such facilities," Christie said.

The bill legalizing exchange wagering would allow the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to contract with an exchange-wagering operator, provided constituents in the racing industry, such as horsemen's groups, approve of the deal.



That last sentence is crucial - there's still a lot of lobbying to go in the US for Betfair. They don't come more stubborn than racing industry factions....

The Betfair share price rose marginally this morning in reaction to the news.