The revolution has begun, well almost
The revolution starts here, sort of.
It should have been a momentous day for racing, today. The beginning of a new era. But you’d hardly notice.
At midnight on 13 July the monopoly on pool betting held by the Betfred owner Tote came to an end. Others, deemed fit for purpose, could enter the pool betting market, and spearheading the new arrivals was Britbet, backed by almost all of Britain’s racecourses.
They would run a pool operation that would be exclusively available at their tracks, and the Tote would be moving out. Indeed, that is what has happened. But to the onlooker you would be hard-pressed to see the difference.
That’s because Britbet, although running on-course pool betting, have postponed the actual setting-up of a pool. Instead, they are going to put their customers’ bets into the Tote pool. It’s as if nothing has changed. Indeed, whilst Britbet are running the racecourse show, all the signage at the tracks will still be the Totepool brand.
The reason is that Britbet know full well that pool betting cannot be diluted and if you are the weaker player, which they are, the chances of success are slim.
So, they are engaging with the Tote to see how they can progress by running things on the racecourses but pooling their bets with the Tote’s continuing operation, which still has the naming rights to Jackpot, Placepot, etc, and has deals with other bookmakers for high street and online pool bets via Tote Direct.
Where you will see a change is at Ascot. They, not uncharacteristically, have gone their own way and racegoers at the Berkshire track will today be placing their pool bets with Bet with Ascot, a joint-venture with the Tote.
At Chelmsford, the Tote will still be in situ as if nothing has changed, and it’s the same at Chester and Ripon who ejected the Tote a couple of years or so ago in order to run their own in-house fixed-odds betting offering which, now, could revert to pool betting.
One thing which was floated about Britbet was that they could take over the on-course betting shops after Betfred left along with the Tote. But William Hill have secured a deal with Jockey Club Racecourses.
It would have been fun to have been at the July Course last night to witness the departure of Betfred and their fixtures and fittings and to see William Hill move in ready for today. I wonder if they left the lightbulbs.
It’s a while since these scribblings took a look at The Racing Paper, the Saturday publication which has had a tilt of taking a share of the lucrative weekend market.
They got off to a pretty dire start, not least by shunning the presentation of racecards in time order, the USP of the old Racing Plus.
They have at last done this but without a redesign to make the pages look readable. And, still, there is little consistency in providing form and race analysis, especially for the Sunday cards, another benefit The Racing Paper is squandering,
One aspect that worked on launch was the sports betting supplement, but that’s now been reduced to three pages.
There’s also the challenge of an early deadline which left last week’s issue leading with the chances of Masar in the Coral Eclipse and also being tipped.
Still, it has the admirable Robert Cooper writing for it, which is some compensation.
Right side of the straight
A word of praise for Chelmsford, a racecourse which is showing enterprise both by overtaking Sandown with the most valuable evening fixture and by installing a turf track which should be operational in 2020.
Many of their fixtures offer attractive cards and are well supported, so plans being promulgated for a new all-weather track at Newmarket should be confined to the bin, something which Yarmouth might also welcome given the way HQ trainers head to the Norfolk course with younger horses.
Now if the Essex track could build a stand on the right side of the finishing straight so that racegoers could see the course, these scribblings would be singing their praised even louder.