Horseracing Bettors Forum news, March 2016

The third HBF meeting took place in London on 29 February 2016. All HBF members were in attendance.

The Forum was addressed separately by Nick Rust (Chief Executive of the BHA), Jenny Hall (Chief Vet of the BHA) and Nigel Roddis (Great British Racing), all of whom answered questions posed by Forum members after their presentations.

Nick emphasised that bettors are key stakeholders of British Racing and that HBF must function to benefit the racing industry as a whole. In order to assist HBF in making recommendations, BHA will indicate which additional data streams may be possible, and what priorities/difficulties are attached to them. British Racing has no official position about account closures/restrictions in the context of ABP discussions.

Jenny gave an overview of BHA veterinary activities and provided valuable feedback regarding anti-doping stances, the possibility of compulsory declaration of mares in foal, wind operations and raceday weighing of horses, all of which HBF will consider.

Nigel explained the importance of field sizes, emphasised the cost to British Racing of race clashes (estimated at £1,500 per race, rising to £5,000 per race if terrestrial coverage) and underlined the significance of British Racing’s international customers. In response to a HBF request, Nigel agreed that bettors would be listened to regarding the future of pool betting in Britain.

In addition, Matt Bisogno and Simon Rowlands gave brief details of their attendance on behalf of HBF at the Racecourse Association’s Gambling Advisory Group and Racing and Turf Management Seminar respectively.

Among the other topics discussed were: account/closures and restrictions (HBF had delayed contacting bookmakers due to uncertainty regarding ABP and funding discussions, but will now proceed); IeSnare (HBF will be contacting the appropriate authorities to seek clarification and register concerns); and bookmakers’ terms and conditions.

On this last point, HBF was encouraged by recent positional statements made by the UK Gambling Commission regarding the need for fairness and transparency. HBF aims to establish contact with UKGC in the months ahead.

HBF hopes to have an “away day” at a racecourse, so that there can be face-to-face interaction with the public, possibly to coincide with its meeting in September 2016.

Since the 29 February meeting, several HBF members attended Industry Updates, held jointly by the BHA and GBR. The last of these, at York, was held against the backdrop of the government announcement of proposed changes to funding of the sport.

HBF wishes to thank Nick Rust for using the occasion to express his support for and appreciation of the efforts of HBF since its inception in August 2015.

HBF has responded to what it sees as an unsatisfactory and disappointing report by the SPRC into its consultation process regarding the SP system. Its open letter about this matter can be read elsewhere on this site.

The next HBF meeting will be on the afternoon of Monday 6 June, when representatives of the RCA will be among those addressing Forum members.