Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Another item for the FIFA are bleeding idiots file

Item in today's RP suggests FIFA are considering banning in-play betting on football over corruption fears. 'What a great idea' will say the do-gooders and Daily Mail readers who don't have a clue about the outside world. Any knowledge of betting in football will let you swiftly decide this is the stupidest idea since awarding the World Cup to a country which bans alcohol and homosexuality, doesn't even have to hotel capacity to cater for one full stadium of visitors and will be 45-50C during July.

Mark Davies has written an excellent post on it here - UEFA and FIFA: focus, please!

If bookmakers offer 'micro-betting', markets on tiny events during the match such as next free kick or next throw-in, who is taking the risk? The bookie. What is a bookie's job to do? Manage risk. What happens when people fall out of trees to back one option in a multi-selection, reasonably random market? They shut it off and investigate, maybe even alerting sporting authorities.

These are not markets where big bets are accepted unless you have the word MUG stamped across your forehead (i.e. You are a high-rolling loser with that bookmaker). Bookies know the famous Matt Le Tissier throw-in story from the 90s. These types of markets have the potential to be manipulated so the %s bet are wide and the risk taken is low. It's a product for the 'very' recreational punter who'd rather bet on an event within a sporting contest than on an electronic random number generation contest in the casino. Few bookies offer this stuff anyway, the ones which do are incredibly quick on the 'restrict bets' control if a punter starts winning.

As hinted at by the Sportingbet spokesman in the RP article - the majority of in-play football betting still goes through the unregulated markets in Asia. No amount of interference with European bookies will make an iota of difference to them; if anything it will only increase their turnover.

Yet more proof that FIFA is a body of self-serving idiots out of touch with the rest of the world.... unless someone from that world turns up with suitcases full of cash.

Racing tariffs - here one day, gone the next

The Horsemen's Group in British racing put their head above the parapet last week and made a stand - encouraging trainers to boycott any races where prizemoney did not meet the recommended amount. Big name stables such as Godolphin and Richard Hannon backed them, announcing they were prepared to support the policy, even going as far as boycotting events/tracks where they were traditionally successful. By Friday, there was 'no chance' of the Horsemen's Group weakening its stance and compromising on tariff values... but by Monday, their backbone had disappeared.

Obviously there are two sides to the argument here - it did seem a little bizarre that tariff rates were going to affect major races, surely the prestige of those races makes up for falling a few grand short of a number generated on some spreadsheet. After all, if you want to increase prizemoney at the bottom of the industry, where the majority of horses, owners, trainers and staff operate, a thin slice off the top is for the greater good. But at the same time, remember there is too much poor class racing - lower foal rates have finally arrived due to the economy being in a mess, dropping a few cards at the very bottom rung of racing wouldn't hurt either. Irish prizemoney is quite healthy because they have their tariffs and stick to them.

Making their announcement on the eve on the Flat season wasn't their brightest idea either - it hardly gives the racecourses time to plan for the changes. Some racecourse owners might have a stash of cash hidden away ready for a rainy day, but chances are most of them don't. The tracks who cry poor and offer rubbish prizemoney all year round though should be considering their future though - is there really a place in a crowded schedule for tracks which just aren't up to scratch?

So the Horsemen's Group, with a decent, but poorly-timed announcement, faced a little bit of criticism, countered with support from some of the most powerful stables in the land, yet buckled under pressure, slashing almost £100k off the Group I tariff on races for 3yos and up (£256k down to £160k).

You'd love to play poker against these guys, one big opening bluff and then they'd fold if anyone called....

Monday, 28 March 2011

how exactly do you send a lottery company broke?

I haven't followed this whole story, but this really is bizarre. A proper lotteries company with a local monopoly should be a licence to print money....

Sazka board declares insolvency

Prague, March 22 (CTK) - The board of Czech lottery operator Sazka said the company is in insolvency and asked its chairman Ales Husak to file an insolvency petition on the firm or join the previous one filed by deputy chairman Roman Jecminek, server iHNed.cz said yesterday.



Surely there's more to this than meets the eye...

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Betfair share price recovering

With confidence that the shambolic pre-Cheltenham site crashes are over now their servers are fully operational in Gibraltar, Betfair's share price has started to climb again. It has been helped today with a case win in the Netherlands, part of a long, protracted battle against the monopolistic Dutch government who refused to consider their licence application. Whether that eventually turns into permission to take bets from Dutch residents is another matter, but it's a start...

Betfair stocks were trading at 935p this afternoon, on a steady rise from around 870p early in the week.

Friday, 18 March 2011

did I miss a big race meeting this week?

Bloody new job, virtually missed everything! Went on Tuesday but barely had a bet outside of that. Poor planning on my part, although it did save me quite a bit of money.... that's not really the point of Cheltenham though is it?

Friday, 11 March 2011

so good..da-da.. so good..da-da..

I got you, do-do-doo....... sang the legendary James Brown.

England suffer deep embarrassment again. Not only losing to Bangladesh, but looking gone (traded at 10), taking quick wickets to trade 1.03, and then screwing it up! Great death bowling from James Anderson - from Cricinfo


Just to add to the tension it's batting Powerplay time. Fielders have to come in 33 needed from 30. Bangladesh have it all to do. Prayers from the crowd...
45.1
Anderson to Mahmudullah, 5 wides, ...are answered here! Heady stuff for the Bangladeshis as Anderson spears this down the leg side, off it went past Prior and skimmed away for five wides!
45.1
Anderson to Mahmudullah, 1 run, down the leg side again, Mahmudullah clips classily to deep square. What a better option he is than Ashraful
45.2
Anderson to Shafiul Islam, 1 run, push and go from Shafiul! Very smart, just sat back, dropped it to mid-off and hared down the other end. The single is greeted with jumping ovations from the crowd
45.3
Anderson to Mahmudullah, no run, meanwhile Mahmudullah looks like he's playing a Sunday park match, easing forward to defend to cover
45.4
Anderson to Mahmudullah, 1 wide, not there Anderson, not there! Slipped too far down the leg side again
45.4
Anderson to Mahmudullah, 1 wide, and another! What is going on? Pressure, pressure, pressure. What crazy things it produces
45.4
Anderson to Mahmudullah, no run, that's the place to bowl. On a length around off stump, Mahmudullah pops forward to defend
45.5
Anderson to Mahmudullah, 1 run, the magic of clear thinking and soft hands gets Mahmudullah a single, dropped to cover
Anderson looks spent at the moment. Dragging himself back to his mark. Third man up...
45.6
Anderson to Shafiul Islam, 1 leg bye, ooh, the bowler is lucky to get away with this. Speared down leg again but Shafiul missed his clip and it thudded away off the pad
Just what you need from your no.1 strike bowler!

Note that's the implied percentage graph showing gone, comfortable win, then gubbed...

Didn't have a penny on the game, just revelling in the mediocrity of the world-beating England team!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Betfair becomes latest member of TaxDodgers'R'Us

No great surprises here as the Betfair share price continued to slide, they needed to do something. Sources told me that a Gibraltar office was being fitted out several weeks ago in preparation for the move, which shocked nobody. Do Betfair deserve to be singled out for criticism in moving their betting operations (but very few of their staff) to Gibraltar? No, they're not the first grandmother-selling company to do it, but hopefully they'll be the last.

Word is that the DCMS are close to announcing new regulations for gambling operators targetting the UK - pay the full amount of tax (and hopefully levy) that a fully UK-based firm pays or you will not be allowed to advertise within the UK. In theory, this should raise questions re European law, but other countries such as France and Italy have managed it, so now is the time for the UK government to show their muscle (though hopefully not William Hague - he couldn't scare a kitten).

And after that, it wouldn't be such a bad idea to extend similar rulings to other industries....

Betfair joins UK offshore exodus

Betfair has become the latest operator to move offshore to escape the UK’s 15% gross profits tax and will save close to £20m a year, its chief executive announced during its third quarter results this morning.

As of tomorrow the newly floated betting exchange will operate under a Gibraltar gaming licence following in the footsteps of rivals Ladbrokes and William Hill, both of which have announced millions of pounds in cost savings since their departure from the UK two years ago.

Betfair CEO David Yu has made no secret of his desire to move more of Betfair’s operation offshore. In October the exchange opened a new Dublin office to house its data centre and telebetting operators. This was considered a warning to the UK government to take action over proposed tax increases including the horseracing levy which it today said it would continue to pay for the time being. The UK government has been reviewing the licensing system but has yet to announce any decision on reforms, however Betfair’s statement today could spark calls for reforms to the law.



The Betfair share price is up over 60p so far today. Ask not what you can do for your country, but how you can bleed it dry....

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The greatest gubbing of all time!


Excuse me while I piss myself, over and over again.

The greatest gubbing of all time. That's over £8 million traded at 1.04 or shorter. Almost £5 million at 1.02 or shorter. £2.7m matched at 1.01.

England, fresh from possibly the best ODI of all-time, the 338 runs apiece tie with India on Sunday. They scored 327 off 50 overs, a huge score against any side. Surely an ICC associate member like Ireland, a complete minnow in the world of cricket, couldn't chase that down?

Enter Kevin O'Brien and a magnificent innings of 113 off 63 balls. The fastest World Cup century of all time.

England brought their gun bowlers and on this perfect batting pitch, Ireland made them look like village pie-chuckers!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Betfair to bid for leading US racetrack Monmouth Park

News surfaced late last week that the state of New Jersey wish to sell off Monmouth Park thoroughbred track and Meadowlands harness track to help fix the state's ailing finances. One of the names mentioned as a potential bidder has been Betfair.

Betfair interested in purchasing Monmouth Park

Betfair, a popular exchange wagering company in England who also owns Television Games Network, is reportedly interested in purchasing Monmouth Park.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said three weeks ago that state officials would request proposals for the sale of Monmouth, along with rights to operating off-track betting.



It's an interesting scenario. New Jersey is one of the two (along with California) states that have passed legislation to allow exchange betting in the near future, but there are still numerous battles to fight before that goes ahead - namely the legitimacy/morality of laying and the return to the horsemen's groups (i.e. prizemoney)... and that's before they fight the battle of teaching Americans how to set odds and take bets, rather than just bet blindly into a pool or take fixed-odds futures bets at ridiculous margins.

If you want to read what the rank-and-file and mostly clueless think, read the comments from Ray Paulick's article. No different to the Betfair forum really :)

Take a step back and think about it. Betfair have an adaptable business model now - they offer tote betting, SP betting, fixed-odds betting (sportsbook to Italy), multiples betting and pure exchange betting because in their most popular regions, they face stiff competition. In the US, they don't. If they are granted an exchange betting licence, all they have to compete with are totes, and the govts and racing bodies will want a piece of the pie, no matter how small it usually is.

BUT - Betfair don't have to run an exchange if they acquire Monmouth Park. There's far more money in tote betting if they can get it to work. There's no competition with bookies or rival totes, just a monopoly. Find the balance between the healthy margin and an attractive offer for bettors. And US horse bettors are getting stiffed with very fat margins giving a cut to everyone but the bettor who ultimately funds the industry.

In Tasmania, they led their bid for an exchange with a massive lump of cash to guarantee the state's racing wasn't decimated. A similar offer here could see them continue with pari-mutuel betting, but at much more punter-friendly rates. Win-place-show takeouts of 17% could be slashed to something more suited to smaller US fields, 9 or 10%, in order to generate substantially higher turnover. The winning bidder would control the off-track betting in New Jersey and be able to reinvigorate it. Betfair & TVG's marketing budget could boost the purses of the big races and bring in stronger fields, strengthening New Jersey racing while other states continue to suffer from their lack of creativity.

Then two options remain - (1) New Jersey decides it loves Betfair and grants Betfair exclusive rights to online sports betting in the state, or (2) Betfair decides the margin it is making on Monmouth Park pari-mutuel betting is so healthy that they want to buy other tracks.

US racing could do a lot worse than have Betfair take over Monmouth Park. So many tracks are now on life support, with plenty only surviving via the cancerous slot machines. Continue down the slide to oblivion, or try something different which might just turn it around?

Eurosportbet to close UK-facing business

Hardly a surprise in this news, they were never going to be a serious bookmaker without advertising outside their own network. The French market, where the government forces them to bet to joke percentages making winning long-term inconceivable, was always going to suit them better. Mature markets don't fall for marketing glitz and poor odds when you're well back in the queue for brand awareness.