HBF Positional Statements
Positional Statements (last edited, February 2019)
MINIMUM BET LIABILITY (MBL)
HBF is a keen advocate of MBL, and believes all bookmakers should offer a baseline provision to customers.
As a result of HBF lobbying, some good progress has been made since August 2018 when the first online bookmaker offered a ‘Guaranteed Bet’. At time of writing, HBF is aware of six firms offering some sort of MBL online. These are Betfair Sportsbook, BetUK, BetVictor, Paddy Power, Skybet and William Hill.
Offline, Coral and Ladbrokes, as well as William Hill, also provide minimum liability guarantees, though the first named pair have thus far failed to extend that provision to online bettors.
Whilst recognising the challenges presented to bookmakers by automated arbing software and by matched bettors, HBF feels the onus is on bookmakers to find ways to combat those threats to their business.
Further, HBF does not believe that the fundamentally aspirational nature of betting on horses should be eroded by operational challenges incurred by bookmakers.
HBF expects a broader provision of MBL in 2019, and will in parallel begin lobbying Gambling Commission to mandate such a provision.
HBF recently published a study of 2018 starting prices by course, a follow up to its 2017 study, which highlights some outlying tracks where particularly good or poor value is often offered. That study can be found here.
HBF remains concerned that the mechanisms which lead to starting prices are insufficiently robust for the modern betting environment. In particular, it is concerned about the size, representativeness and anonymity of the sample used on-course to establish SPs. HBF made a submission to the Starting Price Regulatory Commission’s consultation process in September 2015, and wrote an open letter in March 2016 expressing its concerns about the conclusions of the report into that consultation, both of which may be found elsewhere on this site.
More recently, HBF’s position is that the move towards greater visibility and public understanding of over-rounds might commence with their display on racing broadcasts.
In late 2018, HBF met with members of the SPRC to ask some questions relating to how the latter’s membership was recruited, and about how their work is funded. HBF requested that this information be made publicly available via the SPRC’s website.
As of February 2019, SPRC has yet to publish these requests.
ADDITIONAL PUNTER-FRIENDLY DATA
HBF believes that an increase in the reliability and scope, and an improvement in the presentation, of data provided for those who follow and bet on the sport of horseracing is crucial in attracting and retaining a new audience, especially as horseracing competes against other recreational pursuits and against the sport in jurisdictions where data is much more extensive.
HBF has been involved in the move to declare and publish wind surgery information, as well as the re-measurement of racecourses in 2017.
HBF continues to lobby for more consistency in, and earlier sight of, data relating to racecourse going, rail movements and their implications for race distances, and notifications regarding the likely impact of low sun in terms of omitted obstacles.
Race-day weighing of horses is a feature of racing in a number of other jurisdictions, major and minor, though especially those in which horses are trained at or near the course, like Hong Kong and India.
Whilst recognising that there are some logistical challenges associated with its implementation, HBF favours a trial – and subsequent adoption – of the weighing of racehorses prior to running, and continues to press for this.
Finally, HBF strongly supports the introduction of sectional timing data, and has worked closely with BHA to this end. HBF notes that, in February 2019, BHA has declared that funds have been made available to progress this important project.
HBF has finalised a Charter document. The Charter covers a broad range of aspects dealing with fairness, transparency and responsible gambling. Work is ongoing to ascertain how the major betting operators match up against the Charter points.
The pool betting picture is little clearer than when last we reported, in spite of the Alizeti consortium agreeing a deal with Betfred’s totepool to take 25% ownership, with an option to purchase the remaining 75%.
At the same time, Britbet has taken control of racecourse operations for those pools provided by Alizeti/totepool. There is little information regarding the ownership of Alizeti, and still less in terms of plans for product innovation or changes to takeout rate. HBF continues to monitor the situation closely.
Colossus, a privately owned pool betting platform, has entered the UK racing market.
IN RUNNING BETTING
HBF feels that British racing is missing a significant opportunity in not properly catering for in-running betting. The emergence of pirated pictures from drones is, in the view of HBF, a self-created problem for racecourses and media groups due to the lack of investment to improve picture latency.
HBF survey data has revealed that a majority of respondents would be interested in an in-running product if there was a more ‘level playing field’ in terms of off-course pictures versus the live action.
HBF was formed to represent the interests of all elements of the UK horseracing betting public. It continues to look for ways of communicating with, and seeking feedback from, that public. This is primarily conducted currently through electronic means (email, website and twitter) but also via racecourse and racing club attendance. HBF welcomes suggestions regarding how to further represent the British betting public.