Small minds dominate the world of ‘big' bookmakers
UK Horse Racing & General HorseTrader News

Small minds dominate the world of ‘big' bookmakers
Posted on 06 Mar 2018
Bookmaking has always been big business. The stories of massive bets taken in the 18th and 19th century are plentiful and in the relatively recent past such names as William Hill, Joe Coral, and Cyril Stein of Ladbrokes - plus the likes of Stephen Little and Victor Chandler on course - have played a fine role in the history of bookmaking.

History however is the relevant word. Notwithstanding a few gutsy on-course layers, the world of bookmaking is in a pitiful state. The CEO of Coral/Ladbrokes made his intentions quite clear last year. "Our target is the recreational punter" he said. To translate, if you want a decent bet, pass right on by.

But as he and his PR mouthpieces are often keen to stress, they are entitled to run their business as they wish. That isn't a statement you hear from many retailers, but it comes out frequently from bookmakers. So are we, as punters, entitled to our say in return?

I think we are. In particular, we can justifiably point out the hypocrisy that comes when these same bookmakers whinge and threaten job losses over any potential FOBT stake reduction. They love to tell us that machine players won't become racing punters. Quite true, of course, but a complete red herring. The one and only reason that bookmakers do less racing business over the counter in betting shops is because they have deliberately made it so. 

They have instilled a culture of fear in their staff so any decent-sized bet has them reaching for the phone to ring head office and in turn their traders justify their existence by knocking back bets and shortening prices at the faintest inkling of risk. 

When we add in the factor that Ladbroke/Coral in particular, but the betting shop industry in general, make it quite clear in adverts that the customer will get a much better deal placing their bets online (until they win of course), then it is patently obvious why turnover on racing has gone down in the shops. 

But bookmakers don't do introspection and they certainly don't admit responsibility. Let us hope for once the politicians see through their bluster. But don't hold your breath.

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