Last week Racing Victoria (RV) released the framework for their soon-to-be introduced - and long overdue - Minimum Bet Laws (MBL).
Don’t get me wrong, as a punter I'm thankful RV have committed to introducing MBL and they should be applauded, but forgive me for being slightly sceptical about the proposed framework.
Racing NSW implemented a MBL policy in 2014 that stated a wagering operator must accept a bet to lose $2,000 on metropolitan meetings and $1,000 on country and provincial. RV have proposed the current Crownbet policy of $1,000 across all tracks.
Another glaring difference between RV’s proposed framework and that implemented by Racing NSW is the MBL would come into play 30 minutes prior to a race as opposed to 9am on race morning.
RV also suggest ceasing MBL two minutes before the jump to allow wagering operators sufficient time to ‘lay off’ and mitigate risk.
Please, this is a game of risk and everyone participating should be duly exposed. Is the art of bookmaking officially dead? Is the next-generation bookmaker incapable of framing a competitive market?
It is suggested this framework is merely a ‘guide’ and RV have called upon punters and racing participants to provide feedback via an online survey.
However, if the leading questions and precedent are anything to go by it's clear the punter is again at risk of finishing last!
Most irksome is that RV chose their corporate partner as a key advisor in developing the framework. Why wasn’t it developed in consultation with punters and then put back to Crownbet and other wagering operators to provide their feedback?
Furthermore, I can’t understand why multi-million dollar corporate bookmakers are being whipped with a feather duster while the life and blood of the industry – the on-course booker – is lashed with the cane.
Under the proposed RV framework on-course bookmakers would have a MBL of $3,000 on metropolitan tracks, which seems glaringly unfair when the corporate bookmakers would only be required to accept a liability of $1,000 off the same punter.
Corporate bookmakers, coupled with dwindling crowds, have put the on-course bookmaker on life support – surely they deserve some sort of reprieve and the chance to operate on a level playing field?Here are my thoughts on how the MBL should be formed:- The same rules apply to corporate and on-course wagering operators- Minimum bet limit of $2,000 for any WIN bet on a metropolitan meeting (proposed $1000 limit)- Minimum bet limit of $1,000 for any PLACE bet on a metropolitan meeting (proposed $500 limit)- Minimum bet limit of $1,000 for any WIN bet on a country / provincial meeting (as proposed)- Minimum bet limit of $500 for any PLACE bet on a country / provincial meeting (as proposed)- All previously closed accounts to be reinstated unless the corporate bookmaker can provide RV with detailed evidence of prior wrong-doing- MBL to come into play the moment markets go up – if the bookmaker is open for business why should they be allowed to pick and choose their customer?- MBL to run right up to the jump as opposed to the proposed framework of ceasing two minutes prior to the advertised start time. Wagering operators need to employ more staff if they’re having trouble laying off onto Betfair.
Racing is engulfed in a vicious cycle; each participant relying upon the other to survive. The industry is funded by the punter through wagering on horses provided by breeders and raced by owners. Those owners then pay trainers who in turn engage jockeys to ride.
One participant cannot thrive without all others, but racing administrators fail to recognise the plethora of sports betting alternatives afforded to punters. Horses, trainers, jockeys, farriers, stablehands, track managers, starters, stewards and racing administrators aren't so lucky.
We punters aren’t blameless in copping the raw end of the stick as we’ve sat idly by as our standing and position in the racing community erodes.
The RV board has long had strong influence from breeding and wagering sectors but never the strong voice of a punter – it’s time that changed. It’s no coincidence that the VOBIS and Super VOBIS schemes have flourished under the current board that is littered with beneficiaries of a strong breeding industry.
Punters must band together and put forward a candidate to take a seat at the table and shape the future of racing in Victoria. We’ve been complicit in our own plight for long enough, it’s time punters used their power as a key racing stakeholder to obtain a fair wagering landscape.
The proposed MBL are highly inadequate and public response echoes that. RV must head back to the drawing board and develop a stronger framework that considers the vital role punters play in putting on this Sport Of Kings.
The MBL is a single example in a number of key integrity issues plaguing punters and threatening to further assist the silent exodus of customers to sports betting. Once punters leave the building it will be lights out for the racing industry, but Corporate Bookmakers need not fear as wagering dollar will simply move from thoroughbreds to sport.