HBF Positional Statements
Positional Statements (last edited, August 2020)
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 had been made since August 2018 when the first online bookmaker offered a ‘Guaranteed Bet’. However of late the MBL facilties being offered have reduced, currently, HBF is aware of the following firms offering some sort of MBL online. These are now Betfair Sportsbook, 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 wishes to see a broader provision of MBL in the future, possibly linked to this being a provision of being granted a license, as in other jurisdictions such as Victoria in Australia, and will in parallel begin lobbying for such a provision.
HBF publishes an annual report of starting prices by course this details tracks where particularly good or poor value is often offered. The latest study can be found here.
HBF is taking part in the consultation being run by the SPRC on the modernisation of the SP with a view to including off-course bookmakers within the sample, HBF’s position is to see greater visibility and public understanding of over-rounds , with their display on racing broadcasts in the future.
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.
Finally, HBF strongly supports the introduction of sectional timing data, and has worked closely with BHA and the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) to this end. HBF notes that, in February 2019, it was announced that funds have been made available to progress this important project. Given that sectional timing information has been paid for by the HBLB the HBF believes that a minimum amount of free to use data should be made available to bettors in the above domains in order to encourage participation and interest in the sport. Where appropriate this should ideally be made available by the industry regulatory body, the BHA.
We have pushed for the publication of Performance Ratings from the BHA handicapping team and have been encouraged by support from the handicapping team in this regard since these are now on the BHA website as part of the horse training database.
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 clearer with the Alizeti consortium agreeing a deal with Betfred’s totepool to take ownership There have been a number of innovations and the Tote Win Guarantee ensures that all Win bets on the Tote will be guaranteed to pay the SP or better.
Colossus, a privately owned pool betting platform, has entered the UK racing market and continues to offer a range of pool bets which offer cash out facility as well as facilitating syndicates.
HBF is supportive of a strong Pool Betting market with high liquidity and low takeouts in order to ensure the competitiveness of prices available to bettors and provide healthy competiton to fixed odds’ operators.
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.
GAMBLING ACT REVIEW
HBF will be lobbying the Government and those bodies taking part in the review for a number of aspects related to the Gambling Act.
At this time we see no body that is responsible for ensuring there is fair and competitive market in horse racing betting. While the Starting Price Regulatory Commission have a role in ensuring Starting Price are collected fairly they have no role in ensuring the betting markets are sufficiently competitive.
As noted in the MBL section, there is an increasing concern that bettors that show any level of skill (some not even showing a profit) have accounts restricted so that stakes are often limited to only a few pence. We see this as an insidious trend where bookmakers treat horseracing as any other luck-based gambling activity and drive away those who show any aptitude to profitable betting. While it is believed the number of bettors being restricted is low, there are no figures available since this is information is not reported to the Gambling Commission. Additionally, there is no information provided to bettors on what leads to restrictions nor any warnings provided. We also call on a facility that would allow bettors to appeal or to have restrictions formally reviewed.
To this end the HBF are supportive of a Gambling Ombudsman being created, that would ensure that bettors are being treated fairly and would ensure that any disputes are formally heard. They would be able to report the competitiveness of betting markets and raise concerns to the Competition and Markets Authority where there was insufficient competition.
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.