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Post your Bets

If you’re on social media, you’re probably already aware of the monster £100k bet that Star Sports took in the betting ring this week on Auguste Rodin.

Reading through the replies and after some discourse with colleagues it got me thinking.. (I bet you were wondering what that ground shaking was.) Are these bets being posted a good or bad thing?

My firm conclusion is they’re good, anything that shines a light on the betting ring and the points of difference we have from the off course is a good thing.

After all, on-course isn’t a place you’ll come to for extra places, best odds guaranteed or money back for second offers. There’s a timeless purity to wagering with the on-course books, one of honour and one filled with the knowledge that most books will take a bet of size. They’ll feel the pain if it wins, but at the same time payout with a smile.

Life as an on-course bookie isn’t one of riches, there’s high expenses, time away from family and many, many, days where you’ll go to work and come back home poorer for it.

Lots of meetings can be dull in terms of turnover, there’s a reliance on the racecourses to provide you the custom and then a friction once those courses try to direct that custom to their own betting outlets.

So here’s what I try and do to in my own little way to attract business when standing in the ring.

  1. I try to be personally presentable – there’s horses for courses and you’d look a little silly turning up in a morning suit at Ffos Las but I think that’s it’s important to at least look like you can afford to pay out should you lay a winner. My old man used to tell me “to be skint is unfortunate but to look it is unforgivable.”

    After all, we’re part of the show and for me it’s important to have a sense of occasion when you are at the races. That extends to my joint as well (for those who don’t know a ‘joint’ is the stand we use from which we ply our trade, not the thing that can be smoked.) I personally wouldn’t go into a restaurant that looked like it needs a clean, and I wouldn’t want to spend my money with a bookmaker that needs one either.
  2. I try to be competitive in my pricing whilst allowing me to accommodate a healthy risk appetite. I don’t offer the odds available on the exchange but I’m not usually far away. This allows me to accept large wagers with the ability to hedge should I need to. My own MO is to hedge as little as possible and if I do, I try and do it with other bookmakers. Yesterday at Worcester I took £5,700 on a 5/2 chance. At that level of racing and on what I expected the surrounding business to be, I’m reluctant to stand a horse for more than £10k. At the time of bet acceptance, the horse was trading at 3.6 on the exchanges. The fact that is a little bigger than the 5/2 I’d laid  allowed me to hedge £1,700 with my bookmaking colleagues.
  3. I try to be fair, if I can accommodate a punter at slightly bigger odds than are on the board I will (if I can’t I won’t.) It’s my belief that by doing this I can build a relationship with my customers, after all we’re in battle, there should be give and take, wins and losses, on both sides.
  4. I try to be real and gain a customer base at the tracks I attend. As stated, earlier life as an on-course bookie can be tough. Big bets are far from the norm, so you need the bread and butter. If you asked an on-course bookie what their average bet stake is you’d be amazed how low it is. Having some fun, getting some stick and a little light-hearted moaning when paying out never go a miss. We live in a world where human interaction is becoming less and less. Allowing someone a little gloating when they do back a winner is the least I can do (they’re only borrowing it after all!)

But, back to original point, posting bets.. I don’t see the harm, there are assurances from the gambling commission via the DCMS that affordability checks aren’t being discussed for the on-course markets. The new online industry voluntary code seems to be moving away from pure affordability and more towards ‘markers of harm.’

Given the gaps and limited number of events on a raceday, the fact that a day at the races contains a social element and the product it’s self (win or each way horseracing markets) is lower risk than other forms of gambling, not forgetting the human interaction that takes place when placing a bet in person I’d say we’re pretty safe from that prospective.

Each bookmaker will and should have their own anti-money laundering procedures especially in the case of the star sports bet where no cash transaction took place so it can be assumed the customer was already a known client.

Obviously, there’s the false perception of the amount of cash bookies carry as well. We all have our own ways of dealing with this and making it as safe as possible, but I won’t be sharing my own in this blog.

So why not shout about the monster bets. I love hearing about the big ‘uns and people love reading about them. Let’s let people know there’s still life in the betting ring and at the same time tell them what they get that they can’t online.

Oncourse bookmakers are unique, the ring’s full of characters and I for one love playing my part and laying a bet. Just like those before us always have.

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