UPDATE – Code of Conduct


I have put together a draft Code of Conduct for Corporate Bookmakers in Australia. I feel it is a fair Code of Conduct and considers bookmakers needs and potential liabilities, yet provides a fair market place for punters. It is a code that if introduced, both punters and bookmakers can have confidence in the integrity of the market place they are betting into.

It also presents a straight forward solution to the so-called “untenable on-line conditions” that the Northern Territory Government put forward as to why they abolished their minimum bet rule for corporate bookmakers.

The code can be viewed here.

I have taken the code to the top regulatory bodies in racing in Australia and have sent it to some of the corporate bookmakers in Australia to get their opinions.

Australian Racing Board

I organised a meeting and presented the Code of Conduct to Australian Racing Board Chairman John Messara and CEO Peter McGauran. They believe it to be a credible Code for bookmakers and punters on the issue of corporate bookmaker obligations and account restrictions.

The ARB is acutely aware of the issue due to the significant number of complaints received from disgruntled punters and is considering the issue.

The issue was tabled and discussed at the ARB’s December board meeting.

I will be in touch with the ARB on the way forward in the New Year.

Australian Bookmakers Association

I organised a meeting and presented the Code to Peter Fletcher, CEO of the Australian Bookmakers Association. The ABA is the peak body for on-course bookmakers in Australia.

The ABA tabled the Code for discussion at their annual general meeting that was held a week ago in Perth. The ABA has fully endorsed the Code. They have written to the ARB suggesting that the ARB work with state regulators for the Code to become legislation Australia wide.

On-course bookies are rightly very angry and disillusioned with the unfair playing field they are subjected to. They are enforced to bet all comers while corporates hide up in the Northern Territory and other lax jurisdictions and pick and choose who they want to bet with them.

I have heard rumours that if things don’t change quickly, and corporates are not made to have obligations set on them as well, on-course bookies will no longer acknowledge betting obligations placed on them.

If on-course bookies did do this, it would have serious implications for the horse racing industry. Market place integrity would disappear overnight along with a lot of punters.

I will continue to work closely with the ABA.

Australian Wagering Council

The AWC is the peak body for corporate bookmakers in Australia. I emailed Chris Downy, CEO of the AWC, a copy of the Code and a request for a meeting. To Chris’s credit he said he would look at the Code and is happy to meet in the New Year to discuss.


I emailed David Attenborough, CEO of Tabcorp, a copy of the Code and a request for a short meeting to discuss. Unfortunately, Tabcorp were not interested in meeting with me to discuss the Code.

Tabcorp had a change in management in their fixed odds team roughly 18 months ago. Since that change they have gone to great lengths to get rid of winners.

Luxbet is just simply banning any successful gamblers from their fixed odds service.

Tabcorp’s own fixed odds department now pick and choose when it suits them to accept bets from clients. They also drastically reduce the size of bets cash punters can have at TAB agencies as soon as they think a winning cash punter is betting at a particular agency.

If you’re losing you can have $5,000 bets, if you start winning they’ll cut the whole agency to maximum $50 bets.

This is to the determent of all other punters frequenting the agency not to mention the betting turnover incentivised franchisee operator.

Changing bet limits in this way is very likely to be against the regulatory framework Tabcorp are bound by.

Tabcorp’s behaviour is how the online industry works now. Corporates do whatever it takes to stop punters winning for the sake of their bottom line, with little regard for market integrity.

Tabcorp consider themselves one Australia’s leading corporate citizens, this conduct in my opinion doesn’t fit this ideal.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon

I had a brief conversation with Nick Xenophon and left him with my thoughts and what I am campaigning for. He is to consider all this and be in contact with me in the New Year.

Credible Corporates

I have been scathing in my assessment of most corporates. In the interests of fairness, I would point out that when I bet, I bet with Lloyd Merlahan’s Topsport, Mark Morrisey’s Unibet and the Tatts Group owned Unitab. These are three outfits that I, and all other punters I have spoken to, consider to be fair and will always bet you to win a t least 1k. Give them a try if you like.

The Code

Obviously some people will agree and some will disagree with the Code I put together. Please give your feedback in the comments section below.

I am aware that a lot of punters bet on sport and they also need to be considered. Hopefully, if bookies agree to this code, common sense will prevail and sport will be included in the Code of Conduct. While I am getting racing administrators to look at the codes viability for horseracing, sport has to be left out, as they have no jurisdiction over sport.

If I’ve achieved anything out of the noise I have been making it is that now at least all of racings most senior administrators know about the issue.

Racing administrators need to deal with this issue swiftly and decisively in the New Year. Punters deserve a fair marketplace.

If racing administrators believe corporate bookmakers should be allowed to behave like they do, then they need to let us all know. Then at least we can all vote with our feet. Let’s hope for racing’s sake it doesn’t turn into a stampede.

– Richard Irvine

14 thoughts on “UPDATE – Code of Conduct

  1. A reasonable starting position but for me sports has to be part of this campaign.

    $1000 limit should be a minimum but they should have to match what a rails bookie at the relevant meeting is obliged to bet to. I think that’s $5k on metro courses?

    Also would like to see bookies unable to bar punters from certain products such as BOB, SP guarantees etc.

  2. Hi Peter,

    I did point out that sport needs to be considered but racing administrators aren’t going to listen to me about sport. We will push just as hard for that though and it absolutely needs to be included.

    Also, I included this point which will take care of SP, BOB etc..

    5.2 Bookmakers must offer their particular horseracing betting products to all clients and not discriminate by way of betting product offering against particular clients due to their perceived economic viability as clients.

    Corporates do have a different platform to on-course so betting everyone to win 5k on metro prob is a bit unrealistic. I agree though, it does have a lot of merit.

    Thanks for your support.

  3. The problem with such a code is that bookmakers would need to be more cautious in their framing of markets and the products offered and this will be detrimental to the multitude of ordinary punters who have finally been given access to reasonable odds having been extorted by Tabcorp for decades.

    Why should bookmakers be forced to cater to professional punters expecting to lose money to them, at the expense of ordinary small punters just interested in betting for entertainment and expecting to lose?

    Naturally the ABA and on course bookmakers are on side, they don’t want the competition. If your code is adopted corporate bookmakers would have to cut back on their odds and on course bookmakers could revert to the ridiculous margins they enjoyed prior to the competition offered by corporates. They already have the huge advantage of a monopoly in their working place.

    • Ronald, you’re obviously a losing punter and if you’re happy to stay that way and donate money to foreign companies who don’t give a shit about Australia or Australians keep the mind set you have.

      I’m stunned that you think corporates should not have to spend more time and effort forming their markets. You seriously think they should be allowed to put no effort into framing a market, leech other peoples product and ferociously ban anyone who picks them out on it?

      This code is about protecting all Australian punters, it will have little benefit for pro’s. Pro’s aren’t worried about getting set to win 1k.

      It’s about protecting small recreational punters who try a bit harder to back a winner and are able to. Corporates barr anyone who wins even the smallest amount.


      Aside from that, on-line gambling is a financial marketplace. No one, no matter their level of ability should be excluded from the marketplace. Free trade is the essence of capitalism.

      • The situation is similar to casinos banning card counters. If they didn’t they would have to change the rules that would then disadvantage ordinary players. This is in fact what has happened, fear of counters has seen casinos introduce measures which have been significantly to the detriment of other players. Do you advocate that casinos should not be allowed to ban counters?

      • I don’t know a lot about casinos and don’t want to know due to hearing what you say. If you’re smarter than them they kick you out. I am unsure of whether Crown, The Star etc.. are allowed to do this and actually do do it. I know Vegas joints do it.

        If a player is sitting at a table and can count cards and find an edge (without the help of a anyone else) at a game that the casino has designed so they can only win at, then YES, absolutely punters should not be banned from playing.

        The legal world works on precedences, the precedence of how bookmaking markets in Australia are to be regulated were formed decades ago. Corporates went and found a regulator who would let them write their own rules. This was done with little regard to the horseracing industry and the NT Govt have got a pittance by way of revenue in return. And now we have an industry that is slowly dying because of these short-sighted actions.

  4. Why is a $5k limit “unrealistic”?

    What’s so different about their platform that justifies a lesser obligation?

    Surely these online corporates have deeper pockets than the satchel swingers?

    And in my experience when the on-course bookie turns off a price he still allows all punters at his stand on so potentially risking more than that.

    • Peter, I would love it to be a 5k limit. I agree with you, but getting 1k is proving very hard. If we can make them bet to win 5k, great.

  5. Richard,

    How would you envisage your Code handling change of price? Would a punter be allowed to back up for another bet to win $1,000 at the new price?

    An example of the present, pathetic, situation at Centrebet. I’d not had a bet with them for years; back then they would invariably accept my bets to win $1,500. I recently made a deposit and from the first bet was restricted to win $80 (what happened in the ensuing years to warrant that?).

    Let’s say I lash out and put the max allowed, $5 on at $21. Centrebet treat my judgement with deserved contempt and blow it to $26, but will not let me put even $1 on at the new price. I can just somewhat understand them not letting someone back up at say $18, but when they chose to blow the price!!

    At least B365, which regularly restricts me to betting to win $20, allows me to back up when they change the price.

    Hopefully a new code would bring consistency, but I can’t see it in your draft.

    • That should be $4 at $21!

    • Hi LBL,

      Yes, you can back up at the new price. The code is simple – If the bookmaker is displaying a price they have to bet anyone who claims them to win 1k, no excuses. So this would stop them rejecting bets at at shorter price. Rule 5.3 shows this

      5.3 Bookmakers cannot ever reject a bet from any client if the bet was placed in good faith and was not placed to take advantage of a pricing mistake by the said bookmaker.

      • Yes, but we recognise they are morally lower than ambulance-chasing lawyers, so I could see them getting out under 5.1

        5.1 Online bookmakers will be obligated to bet all customers to win no more than $1,000 on any product type they offer on horseracing

        by saying you have already been set to win $1,000 on that horse in that race, being a product type, and that satisfies their obligation, so you cannot back up.

  6. Fair point, LBL. I will look at the wording and make it more watertight.

  7. Great stuff, I love your work.

    I think there is a small error in 5.1 – I think the odds you mean to use are $3, bet $500 at $3 to win $1,000.


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