The HBF meeting took place remotely via Zoom on the 26th October 2020.
Colin Hord was in the chair.
Matters Arising from the previous meeting that had seen progress included:
Sectional timing Investment Programme – Letter sent to Paul Darling QC, chair of the HBLB.
Charter update – Introductory letter drafted to the Betting & Gaming Council
SPRC/Overrounds – Updated table to be produced, racing media to be contacted via Press Release
Gambljng Act Review – To begin early discussions to look to collate HBF responses.
Fixture List Survey – Survey complete and subject raised on Sky Sports Racing
The Chairman’s update included:
Colin reported that the HBF had been busy and that the Racing Post had asked for HBF comment on a range of matters. Steve Tilly continues to produce accurate and relevant SP statistics, while HBF representatives had met with on-course bookmakers for discussion. Colin wrote to Joe Saumarez Smith for consultation on the Levy Reform, while all HBF members were reminded that our submission for the Gambling Act Review was high priority.
BHA Update – Guests were Nick Rust, Will Lambe, and Paul Johnson.
The main subjects discussed were
Covid 19 Update – Racing behind Closed doors continues as the BHA works with the government for the safe return of spectators. Contraction of the industry, short term financial assistance from the government, and Levy Board funding to support prize money and racecourse executive contributions were also mentioned.
Return of racegoers to courses – Compliance with elite sport protocols was discussed which allows racing behind closed doors. Greyhound racing continuing with hospitality was raised and the explanation of local authority support and restrictions on the number of attendees was accepted.
Levy Reform/Levy Steering Group – An update was provided on the progress of the Levy Reform Steering Group. A proposal will be provided to the members Committee including an economic assessment with views canvassed across the sport to include the HBF. It was pointed out that account restrictions and closures would affect the income from any levy. The possibility of bookmakers shortening the top three in the market while still providing a better overround per horse was also mentioned.
In-running betting and the use of illegal streaming via drones – A long running issue that is still no nearer to being solved and not directly within the BHA remit. All agreed faster pictures with less delay (latency) would solve the issue, but at present it appears drone activity is being left unchecked by the racecourses.
Chief Brody, Exeter 8 October – Nick Rust confirmed the race was looked at on the day and again as part of the review process.
Photo Finishes – BHA confirmed the photo is published on the BHA site on the results page and a Racetech image is published after the result.
Lifetime Form Project – Ongoing but the lack of progress was put down to Covid issues requiring the main focus at present.
On-course bookmaker representatives – Bookmakers representatives are not currently allowed on course during Behind Closed Doors racing unless they are part of a broadcasting team, and reports to the contrary are being investigated, though local authorities may also have a say.
Guest – Wes Himes, Betting and Gaming Council (BGC)
After an introduction to the work of the BGC and its mission, including creating a safer gambling environment for all customers, subjects discussed included:
Problem Gambling – members of the BGC are helped by guidance and codes and reviewing the exposure to gambling advertising and include self-exclusion schemes such as Gam Stop. A Code Of Sponsorship is currently under development, though it was pointed out that not all gamblers have a problem. Examples of Markers of Harm were given, and the need to ensure people who bet without issue are not stigmatised was agreed.
Single Customer View Update – The threat of abuse from operators was raised by the HBF with appropriate tools deemed a necessity. The legalities of GDPR were mentioned and the legality of processing markers of harm.
HBF Betting Charter – Protection of Funds, Operator Ts and Cs, and the possibly of a kite mark for bookmakers were all discussed.
Recent GC Consultation on VIP Programmes – Discussed and noted.
Betting Account restrictions and the lack of transparency – A commercial decision for operators but the transparency concerns were understood. An icon button per account to list restrictions was suggested and agreed as a good idea. It was also agreed that the technology that is aimed at stopping the problem gambler can also affect winning bettors. New algorithms are under trial to create earlier intervention.
Guidance on Operator use of customer personal details – Since GDPR in May 2019 the Gambling Commission has issued advice on customer checks, and that they apply to both winners and losers.
Guest – Chris Hudson, President British Racecourse Bookmakers Association
Chris explained that he was keen to maintain SP as a world class gold standard system, and that any move to an industry SP was completely against the original purpose of the SP. HBF SP analysis was discussed and it was agreed that a shortening of the first three in the betting would increase the profitability of a book and a greater gross margin. It was agreed to work closely together in the future.
HBF Business (continued)
HBF Refresh – Three new members were agreed in Simon Rowlands, Ben Fellows, and George Ryley – the non-selected candidates will be written to thanking them for their application, and a press release will be drafted shortly.
SPRC/SP Modernisation – The HBF felt it a logical move for the modernisation of the SP but that the on-course should still be included and that the new SP needed to reflect the entire betting market. It was noted that placing larger bets with on-line operators can be an issue, and that the HBF had concerns over the possible manipulation of prices with and Industry Ombudsman our preferred solution.
Gambling Act Review – A separate meeting would be needed to discuss the HBF submission. Consideration would be given to a healthy market open to all, allcomers welcome, advocacy for a betting industry ombudsman, regular responsible bettors, a differentiation between racing and other forms of gambling, transparency of bookmakers with regard to restrictions, and tax models for racehorse betting.
Sectional Timing Update – Awaiting an update from Ed Gretton regarding implementation.
In -Running Update – to be followed up with Nick Rust.
48 hour declaration and Reserves – It was agreed that Reserves would afford bettors more choice and this will be raised with Richard Wayman.
Date Of Next Meeting – Monday 11th January to take place via Zoom