SUBMISSION TO O’FARRELL INTERACTIVE GAMBLING REVIEW

Mr. O’Farrell,

When Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the review which you are chairing he said “I have deliberately left the terms of reference broad to ensure former Premier O’Farrell can look at everything he needs to, with no preconceived notions.” Therefore I have perused your review’s terms of reference but also formed my submission around what I believe to be the most important issues – from a punter’s perspective – for the Federal Government to consider.

  1. Problem Gambling; Corporate bookmakers overall have strong problem gambling infrastructures in place. I really don’t feel they need to do any more than they have already. However their level of advertising during live sport must change. They should be banned from having any part of telecasts. All other forms of advertising are acceptable. My generation and yours all grew up with no gambling around the sports we love – now, the next generation are coerced into thinking that the only way to enjoy live sport is to bet on it as well. This is most alarming when you consider the mostly rapacious conduct of the Corporate Bookmakers. Which leads me on…
  2. Minimum Bet Limits; It makes my blood boil when I see the blanket advertising Corporate Bookmakers throw at major sport in Australia knowing that the majority of them believe their bookmaking licence to be an entitlement, where the punter is merely fodder for their bottom line. Any punter that is not considered “economically viable” to a bookmaker has their account closed or severely restricted. Bookmakers offer people the opportunity to win money – that’s their product. They must be forced by the Federal Government to be true to this. Punter outrage over the last couple of years has led to some change from a minority of Corporate Bookmakers but there is still a long way to go. The bookmaking industry in Australia has been hijacked by foreign raiders who are intent on expanding the highly unethical business practices they have been allowed to get away with – mostly in U.K. and Europe – by ignorant, complicit regulators. These practices have had serious negative social impacts. The Federal Government must stand up to them. They are welcome here – but it must be to Australia’s advantage. Your review must either recommend introducing minimum bet limits for all Australian Corporate Bookmakers or explain to the Australian public why gambling should be allowed in society when no one can actually win at it?
  3. Illegal Offshore Wagering; the biggest threat is money being leaked to Asian betting exchanges. Punters are turning to these because they can’t get their bets on here because of account closures and restrictions but also because of the outdated, non-competitive structure of tote betting in Australia. Your review should begin talks between TabCorp., Tatts Bet and racing regulators about drastically overhauling tote-takeout rates. Tote-takeout rates of 18-20% are simply not viable long term in the digital age when compared with sportsbetting which has take-out rates of 3-5%. Many punters in Australia who have been barred by Corporate Bookmakers can bet on Asian betting exchanges and receive between 10-24% commission back on their bets. All punters want to support the Australian industry but when we have been treated so poorly for so long, betting with these Asian exchanges is most compelling.

Yours,

Richard Irvine

Open letter to Bernard Saundry, CEO of Racing Victoria

Hi Bernard,

I was heartened to hear you recently on RSN Radio say that Racing Victoria will consider Minimum Bet Laws for corporate bookmakers in May when you renew your race fields legislation.

It’s so important that RVL introduce and legislate Minimum Bet Limits and ban account closures.

It’s incongruous that ingenuity and a pursuit of excellence is nurtured and sought as a priority in every aspect of racing except punting.  The highly sophisticated industry that RVL is pushing towards must consider and protect punters into the future.

Fixed odds wagering is booming and is heading towards – in-terms of revenue for the industry – becoming an equal funding contributor as tote betting. Tabcorp just released half yearly results where fixed odds revenues were up 33%. Fixed odds revenues are up because that’s how punters want to bet these days – in particular the next generation of punters that RVL has been vocal about attracting. I’m part of that next generation; we’re smart and we have an abundance of information and computers available to us that previous generations didn’t. And that’s given so many more punters the opportunity to win on the punt – which is a great thing. But there’s no point to this “digital revolution” and initiatives like your own racing.com, if punters can’t at least potentially monetise this wealth of info.

I heard you on radio this morning talk in particular about RVL trying to attract 18-25 year olds as a priority. You went on to affectionately label them as “the next generation of race goers and my children” and how important it is that they learn about racing and engage with it. If RVL don’t act against the current corporate bookmaker climate, “your children” will be engaging with a gambling market that is a one-sided massacre akin to poker machines. Strong but realistic language.

The entire industry, from the Australian Racing Board to media commentators, right through to the tens of thousands of industry participants are tired of corporate bookmakers rapacious conduct, because Australian racing is based on integrity and fair go for all. 

On-course betting rings have always been regulated and fair, which is why we have the strongest marketplace in the world. RVL should act for no other reason than to impose the same regulations that they have placed on on-course bookies for all of time. You would no doubt have had meetings with the Australian Bookmakers Association, who have waged a long, patient and considered campaign to level the playing field for the hundreds of on-course bookies they represent, who face the most headwinds of all wagering operators.

The marketplace has improved slightly in the last year. And some corporates have listened to the industry and are now running equitable, fair and profitable businesses. And there has been a minute minority of corporates who have always run fair businesses. But there is still a number of large foreign corporates who believe their bookmaker’s license is an entitlement, and they shouldn’t be saddled with the competitive forces that every other business in Australia faces. A bookmakers license is the privilege of framing a market with the percentage in your favour, and going about laying every runner to make your margin. This seems to have been forgotten.

I acknowledge that the fractured state of national racing administration has made this issue a complicated one. But you have the resources to to act and I guarantee it will be to racing’s betterment. You will face push-back from disgruntled corporates who may argue that the new tax regimes have made it too hard for them to service “low-margin clients”. But that’s simply because they misread and over invested in the Australian marketplace. That’s not RVL’s problem, and it’s not the punter’s problem.

This issue will never go away. If you don’t act the industry will continue to be deprecated as people like me speak out against it. I don’t wish to be an antagonist, I just love racing and want a fair go.

There’s two types of punters in Australia; those who win and those who aspire to win. If RVL don’t act for all punters in May you will be telling winning punters to invest elsewhere, and aspiring winning punters that they are welcome so long as they lose. What happens when the aspiring winning punters realise that they’re just fodder?

You run the strongest racing jurisdiction in the world. All punters love racing in Victoria and want to support and engage with it – but Racing Victoria need to support us.

Regards,

Richard Irvine

The Billion Dollar Bet

Australians individually lose, on average, $1,600 a year gambling – the most in the world. Because of this, a few years back, the big gambling houses of Europe set their sights on Australia and $1 billion surged in from offshore. The tide is quickly receding and that investment is souring.

William Hill grabbed Sportingbet, Centrebet, and Tom Waterhouse for a cool $710 million. Paddy Power swallowed Sportsbet and IasBet for $235 million. Ladbrokes strangely bought bookmaker.com.au and Betstar for a combined $40 million. Add in Unibet buying Betchoice for $20 million, and Bet365 setting up from scratch and bleeding $76 million in their first two years of operation, and there’s your billion dollar bet.

Where these CEO’s and their boards erred, was assuming that they would enjoy UK style regulatory protectionism, and be able to conduct their business’ in the same rapacious way they do back home.

Interestingly, their conduct back home has finally come to bear, and all the major UK bookmakers have acknowledged an outraged UK community and signed a Code of Conduct.

http://www.abb.uk.com/campaign/gambling-industry-responds-to-public-concerns/

European Big Gambling also underestimated how established the Aussie market was. Very few new punters are coming to the game, and most had already found a home with Sportingbet, Sportsbet or Tabcorp. So for Ladbrokes and Bet365, customer acquisition is very, very expensive. And the customer base that William Hill and Paddy Power bought, came at significant expense. This has left them all in a costly race to the bottom to attract new clients.

Paddy Power, who reported a solid annual profit of just over $50 million for their Aussie arm, Sportsbet, is the only UK company to achieve acceptable results so far. However, they have a lot of work in front of them to stay as the most recognised brand in Australian wagering (a title which Tabcorp have ceded) and repay the $235 million invested to gain that position.

William Hill has the most daunting task. For the original team who started Sportingbet Australia, William Hill swooping at the top of the market must remind them of Alan Bond at his best. Sportsbet’s $50 million annual profit is the benchmark for the industry – there’s a lot of $50 million’s in $710 million. Now, Tom Waterhouse – who has just been appointed CEO of William Hill Australia at the age of 32 – is burdened with clawing back the $710 million that London head office decided was a good bet to have on the Aussie market.

It’s speculated there has already been an internal revaluation of William Hill’s Australian operation – written down to $320 million. Ouch!

From the mid 90’s, Australian wagering became the Wild West. Fractured administration and regulation led to disgruntled corporate bookmakers seeking, and finding, a complicit regulator in the Northern Territory – which allowed them to write their own rules. This was to the deep detriment of the racing industry and the community. Now the industry and community has caught up with them, and corporate bookies will be allowed to continue operating their businesses in the manner they’ve chosen – but they’re gunna pay for it. And more importantly, they will be made to treat punters fairly.

Racing Victoria and Racing Queensland completely blind sided the bookies when they nearly doubled their product fees and introduced a new turnover tax regime of between 2 and 3.5%, depending on the status of the race meeting – premier meetings like the Melbourne Cup attract the maximum turnover tax applicable in Victoria of 3%. This makes the bookies already incredibly tight business models close to untenable.

Racing NSW, after persistent complaints from the industry, took the noble step of introducing minimum bet limits and ethical standards on corporate bookmakers betting on NSW racing. They did this by citing the Federal Court’s 2011 decision that Racing NSW are entitled to administer their product any way they see fit.

Of the six biggest bookies in Australia, Sportsbet and Bet365 have adhered to Racing NSW’s new rules. Tabcorp, William Hill, Ladbrokes and Unibet are ignoring them and refuse to allow punters an opportunity to win. If need be, I hope Racing NSW stare them down all the way back to the Federal Court.

All the while, the bookies have been desperately lobbying the Abbott government to amend legislation and allow in-play betting on the internet. In-play betting has produced rivers of gold for Big Gambling in Europe. The untapped Aussie in-play market was a major factor why the Europeans payed massively over the odds for established Australian corporate bookies. This change doesn’t look to be on the horizon and it’s implementation would have questionable benefits anyway.

All theses factors add up to the stark reality that the European bookies, with the exception of Paddy Power, will never recoup their initial investments.

Open Letter from Kingsley Bartholomew to RVL and Racing Queensland

Kingsley Bartholomew has been one of the more significant punters in the Australian wagering marketplace for 15 years now. He’s deeply concerned about the future of the industry – and what it means for punters – in the face of proposed new tax models. He has written an interesting open letter to the CEO’s of Racing Victoria and Racing Queensland.

Dear Mr. Saundry and Mr. Condon,

My name is Kingsley Bartholomew. I have been a  punter on Australian horse racing for 15 years. My turnover in that time has been significant. I’m compelled to write to you due to the parlous current state of the wagering industry. I believe the bookmaker tax model you plan to introduce will be the tipping point.

What impact I believe the new model will have:

An immediate decline in fixed odds turnover – followed by a gradual decline in pari-mutual turnover.

Less competitive and higher percentage markets being offered by bookmakers.

Bookmakers will no longer be willing to manage or accommodate low-profit margin or winning clients.

Corporate bookmakers will become more stringent in the closing and restricting of accounts.

Under the RVL model, bookmakers will be willing to take less risk, as they do not want their profit/loss swings to be too volatile. Reduced risk equals reduced turnover. The 15-30% gross profit per meeting rule is one of the greatest ways to suppress the marketplace.

Bookmakers will head offshore where they can offer far more competitive markets in an unregulated environment. The majority of corporate bookmakers headed to the Northern Territory in the 2000’s for this reason – we must make sure the same mistake is not made twice.

Where I believe we’re headed:

On-course bookmakers will become non-existent, apart from major carnival days.

The majority of corporate bookmakers will only service small, recreation punters.

Pari-mutual pools will decrease gradually due to the lack of stimulation in the marketplace.

Both bookmakers and punters will look to other forms of gambling, as Australian horse racing becomes no longer viable.

What I believe should be done:

All states should adopt Racing NSW’s current taxation model.

A 50% reduction of this fee should apply for all on-course bookmakers. On-course bookmakers are the lifeblood of the wagering industry in Australia. They are currently being left to die – I believe we will only realise how important they were to the industry when they’re gone.

State regulatory bodies work together to adopt a federal law where corporate bookmakers per bet risk limits are introduced. It’s absurd that the corporate bookmakers landscape in Australia is made up primarily of foreign owned companies who are virtually able to ‘write their own rules’ when it comes to accepting, declining or cancelling bets.

Ban the closure of accounts by corporate bookmakers. In the UK bookmakers are not obliged to accept bets from anyone. As a result of this unfair marketplace, Betfair now dominates the market and their racing industry is in dire straits. In the past the Australian gambling marketplace has always prided itself on fairness and integrity, this sadly is no longer the case. Bookmakers have always been granted licenses to provide a market (with a percentage in their favour) to all punters – not to find, prey on, and exploit losing gamblers. The online industry has morphed into the latter.

Create state of the art ‘betting pavilions’ at major racetracks in Sydney and Melbourne where punters have access to personalised computers with high speed internet, database access, custom designed betting applications, TAB incentives, etc.

Options to consider:

Tax bookmakers higher on non-fixed odds bets (tote derivatives). This would have a much lower impact on turnover levels, as bookmakers would find it much easier to adjust their betting models. This would also provide less competition to pari-mutual pools.

Reducing pari-mutual takeout and allowing bookmakers to only offer a fixed odds product. I believe we would then be left with the best of both worlds. A vibrant fixed odds market where bookmakers are not continually trying to undercut the TAB, and a competitive pari-mutual with larger pools. Even in Hong Kong – with no fixed odds bookmakers – the government has realised that a 10% rebate is needed to ensure the long-term future of their racing.

A taxation model that includes a tax reduction for bookmakers whose average bet size is high. Bookmakers should be encouraged to accept larger bets – but they are reluctant to – not only because their risk is greater, but also because their profit margin is a lot lower.

In summary

I believe the first question you need to ask yourself when making a decision concerning the wagering landscape is – will the proposed change increase or decrease turnover? If the answer is decrease, it’s the wrong move.

I implore you to give careful consideration to my thoughts. Punters generally, are bewildered at the quickly vanishing integrity of the marketplace. There’s a strong feeling that we’ve simply become fodder for the industry – we have no rights and no voice. If smarts and ingenuity is not nurtured and rewarded by the racing industry, punters will have no choice but to invest elsewhere.

Regards,

Kingsley Bartholomew

Debunking The Spin

Sportingbet pay the King of Spin, Shane Warne $1 million a year to be their brand ambassador. Their adversaries, Sportsbet have saved a million by having their own in house King of Spin, Cormac Barry.

Most of you would have heard the almighty load of self-interest inspired spin that Cormac Barry and Mary Collier of the Australian (European) Wagering Council served up to racing’s most informed and relevant voice Shane Anderson earlier in the week.

They shit they spun troubled me so I felt a need to debunk it.

Let’s start with Mr Barry who took over Sportsbet 2-3 years ago after the Paddy Power buyout.

Cormac told us what innovators he and all the other corporates are, and how much they do for the punter. Shane asked him are punters really getting great service if a lot are getting barred?

Cormac’s response was – “The genesis of customers being banned came into place with the advent of turnover based tax”. Ahhh, no, mate – Sportsbet and Sportingbet ferociously barred punters all the way through the early 2000’s as they were paying no tax at all to RVL, Racing NSW etc.. So that’s that one out of the way – moving on.

Cormac suggested that corporates could service low margin or “winning punters” if a gross profit based turnover model was introduced for low margin clients. Claiming “we lose to the punter and then lose to RVL as well with the present system”.

Seems a pretty stupid idea to me – if I win off Sportsbet they pay me but nothing gets returned to the industry? Further, you promote yourselves as the “fixed odds specialist”. Fixed odds come with risk management – you’re a bookie – if you lose, that’s your problem, not RVL’s. Okay, taken care of that – moving on to Cormac’s corker!

Unprovoked, Cormac went on to claim that the main reason winning clients are barred is because –

“There’s an assumption there is perfect information in the market”

“We can’t be sure if a punter is continuously getting good information, that that information isn’t questionable”.

“In a perfect world where if there was no integrity issue I would have no problem taking bets off all punters”

Luckliy Ralph Horiwitz, Shane’s co-host, reined him in on this one. It was a baseless, deeply unqualified statement. Cormac should have retracted it and apologised immediately – but he didn’t.

I was offended. I’ve been barred by just about everyone – does that mean I’m a hot worker?

Cormac insulted all punters and the industry at large. Not to mention Australian stewards who are proven to be the best in the world.

Where there is money there will always be corruption and bookmakers must protect themselves and sports from corruption, but to claim that’s why punters are barred was disgusting.

I didn’t agree with one word Cormac said. I feel he missed the biggest point of all for corporates in the new tax structure – the per meeting charging of the new tax. He and Mary never mentioned it, maybe because their businesses are so fat they win every day so they need not worry about the unfairness of paying turnover tax on losing days and gross profit tax on winning days.

Mary Collier trotted out the “we reject 1 in 10,000 bets” line when pressed by Shane about account closures.

What is this stupid line? It made no sense when they produced it 8 months ago and it’s still just as irrelevant. All the bookies she represents except for Unibet don’t reject bets, they either accept your bets or shut you down. Unibet who are respected as being one of  the fairest bookies in Australia might reject 1 in 10,000 bets – is she referring to them?

None of the “vocal minority” as she labelled us are complaining about rejected bets – we’re sick of being straight up shut down.

And this is the genesis of my problem with Cormac and the Australian (European) Wagering Council – if they want the respect of the horseracing industry and the community at large they need to stop the groundless spin and start telling the truth about their business models. At present the Govt. are allowing their business model so what’s there to hide?

 

Racing VIC drop a bomb

Racing Victoria has set the cat among the pigeons today with their announcement of a new set of product fees for betting on Victorian Racing product, all to take effect in just over six weeks.

Instead of the current 1.5-2% turnover rate, the new scenario would see 1.5-3% turnover or 15-30% of gross revenue – whichever is greater. Racing Victoria had previously supported the turnover model fought so hard for by Racing NSW in its court battle with the corporates.

Interestingly, it is to be applied on a per meeting basis, which does seem unfair. i.e. If a Corporate turnovers $1 million on Melbourne Cup day and wins $300,000 they pay $90,000 to RVL – they then back up on Oaks Day and turnover $1 million again and lose $300,000 they pay RVL $30,000. They’re square for the 2 days but they’ve paid RVL $120,000. If they’d broke square both days they would have paid RVL only $60,000. Corporates and on-course bookies have a right to be upset about that.

Australia’s biggest operator TABCORP, were supporting Racing NSW in it’s corporate battle. Now that the Victorian racing authority has changed tact with a gross revenue model, TABCORP won’t escape this money grab. They have already announced a $4 million earnings hit for the next financial year.

So what does in mean for punters and the continuing battle for fairness in the Australian wagering landscape?

It’s quite difficult to get an accurate idea, but you can bet that it will be the punters who in one way or another will end up the losers.

Foreign corporate raiders are hardly going to settle for a lower return on their investment here – and the local giants TABCORP and Tatts have shareholders to answer to and revenue targets that won’t be reduced.

Further restrictions and account closures on winning punters will be inevitable. Perhaps we will even see more restrictions on punters who only lose 1-5% of their money. That makes it more important than ever that regulators such as the Northern Territory Racing Commission finally stand up and do something about fairness.

The Australian (or is it European?) Wagering Council’s (AWC) response smacks of hypocrisy as usual. Firstly, let’s acknowledge that the AWC is made up of Bet365 (UK), Sportingbet (UK), Ladbrokes (UK), Paddy Power (Ireland) and Unibet (Euro). There isn’t too much “Australian” about it – it’s a lobby group for foreign interests.

The soon (if not already) to be 100% Crown-owned exchange Betfair are also a member. We’re not quite sure why as in the past they have even disassociated themselves with AWC statements. (Mind you, this decision does have a huge impact on their business also – could they dump Australian racing altogether?)

Anyway, the main argument put forward by the AWC is about integrity and the risk that less competitive prices will lead to a rise in “illegal and offshore betting”.

This may well be the case, but how convenient is the argument now?

Closing winner’s accounts, restricting punters to $1 bets, advising punters that they are “uneconomical” because they have the temerity to win – all factors that drive punters offshore or underground. Integrity doesn’t seem to be an issue when punters are the ones being disadvantaged through a money grab.

Perhaps racing needs to sort out its sustainability issues on its own. Is there too much racing? The answer is most certainly yes.

You can’t help but feel this new fee structure is aimed at getting more of a return for the industry from corporates betting tote odds. Maybe restricting Corporates to only being allowed to bet fixed price and charging them a 1% turnover tax and then 2% turnover tax on Group 1 racing days would be advantageous to all.

If this were adopted, racing regulators and the Tab would have to look seriously at dropping tote pool take-out rates. They’d be loathe to but they are staring down the sports betting juggernaut that charges its customer on average 13% less than racing.

It’s a fine balance between having enough money to sustain a healthy racing industry and then starting to drive punters away to lower margin sports betting.

One thing is for sure, bookies will be passing on most, if not all of the added cost to punters through greater risk-management. Winning will get a lot harder – if it wasn’t hard enough already. If it becomes too hard to have a win, then racing and its direct participants will be the ultimate losers.

UPDATE – Code of Conduct

UPDATE

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.

Tabcorp

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