Bookies and Britbet fall out at Ffos Las
Britbet ruffles bookies’ feathers
There was a bit of a falling out the other week when on-course bookies found out that, next year, Britbet, owned by a consortium of racecourses, had been granted two pitches at Ffos Las.
The layers were particularly irked that Britbet would operate from two prime sites.
It marks Britbet’s first entry into the ring, after being set up to run on-course Tote betting, with stakes going into UK Tote Group’s pool, and operating a number of racecourse betting shops.
A subsequent meeting has, to some extent, smoothed over ruffled feathers, with the bookmakers, including Britbet, and the racecourse management, planning to work together to boost the track’s betting ring.
It’s a betting ring with room for improvement with Ffos Las SPs have coming under scrutiny with accusations of punters getting poor value.
That came after a failed attempt to have Britbet moved to less prominent pitches for their one-year toe in the betting ring water.
If Britbet’s presence can help make the SPs more robust then it’s to be welcomed. And, it’s going to be interesting for Britbet’s management to measure the costs they incur against the amount of money they take and the profit they make.
I would be surprised if they didn’t find it hard going.
Talking to rails bookmakers over the past few weeks, they’re finding it increasingly difficult to make it pay.
Once there was bookie-speak for how the day had gone. “Made it pay”, meant they’d shown a healthy profit; “we covered our costs” meant they made a decent profit; and “it was barely worth turning up” meant they’d had a reasonable day.
Now, there’s no coded definition of “difficult to make it pay”. Upfront costs, not least the price of a badge, and taking only a handful of bets, even at premier tracks, is making some think about giving it all up.
The trouble is that not only do they face increased competition, such as Britbet shops allowing punters to take a price rather than have their bet settled at SP, there’s the myriad of concessions and incentives available online for the smartphone generation.
No longer is the use of phones to place bets at racecourses prohibited.
Meanwhile, on course bookmakers offer much the same as they’ve always done, with the only discernible change being unwelcome smaller fractions for each-way bets.
A suggestion that there needs to be a bit of innovation got short-shrift and, apart from the cost of a bookmaker’s badge, a much-voiced complaint is the number of firms who operate from multiple pitches.
It will be interesting to see what Britbet can bring to the Ffos Las ring and it would be interesting to see what feedback there is to Britbet towers on how viable it is to be present in the betting ring.
There’s only one road to Cheltenham
Former Racing Post editor Bruce Millington has run a twitter poll to get views on the annual build-up to the Cheltenham Festival. With over 700 votes cast, the results stood at:
- Too long and excessive 47%
- Just about right 34%
- Give me more 19%
Whatever your view, there is one aspect of the run-up to the Festival which is worth its weight in gold. It’s Lydia Hislop’s Road to Cheltenham on the Sporting Life website.
Lengthy essays forensically examine races and runners to build a comprehensive picture of candidates for Cheltenham success.
So, there is a bit of consternation on social media that another Road to Cheltenham is being touted. Timeform have announced the first of Ben Fearnley’s Road to Cheltenham series.
The Hislop Cheltenham chronicles are to start soon, but, meanwhile, the Timeform version is being nominated on twitter for the dreaded squiggle.
Nix flicks over the sticks*
The rain deprived us of last Friday’s racing on ITV4 from Cheltenham. Instead, an episode of The Saint was shown. It’s the one where Simon Templar comes to the aid of a young lady who finds herself at risk from a gang of villains.
It was, however, a missed opportunity to show some racing-related films we’d like to see:
- Blade Non-Runner
- Close Encounters of the Thirsk Kind
- Furlong Good Friday
- Good Will Huntingdon
- Guns of Navan
- Hunt for Redcar October
- Lambourne Supremecy
- Land That Timeform Forgot
- Racing Postman Always Rings Twice
- Saving Mr Geoff Banks
- Saving Private Ryan Moore
- A Day at the Races
*with apologies to the legendary headline in Variety back in 1935, above a story about rural cinema audiences unimpressed by Hollywood films depicting rural life: Sticks Nix Hick Pix
More Of Course columns
Tote unveils new look and the return of some favourites http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-2UF
Oos and ahs at Ascot’s drama http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-2SD