On the eve of the Gold Coast’s racing showcase, the Magic Millions, Racing Queensland have delivered a backhander to punters by refusing to pursue the introduction of a minimum bet limit in 2017.
RQ released their new Race Information Fee Schedule last week, which was expected to usher in new rules to ensure punters can get set on Queensland racing, as they can in New South Wales in Victoria.
Instead, minimum bet limits (MBLs) were a conspicuous absentee from the new announcements.
MBLs were introduced by Racing NSW in 2014, with Racing Victoria following last year. The rules require all bookmakers to accept any bet on racing to win a specified amount: $2,000 on metro racing, and $1,000 on country meetings.
Bookmakers are forbidden from refusing bets from customers with a successful betting history and from closing their accounts.
MBLs have been heralded by punters, tired of having their bets refused by corporate bookmakers who chased losing customers only. The wider industry also appears to have benefited, with Racing Victoria spruiking record betting volumes on the 2016 Spring Carnival.
With Australia’s two largest racing jurisdictions both becoming punter-friendly, many had expected other state racing bodies would follow suit – making the move by Racing Queensland a surprising one.
RQ CEO Dr Elliot Forbes cited state legislation as a reason for the failure to move.
“There’s a lot of commentary about this. Quite simply we can’t change it without an act of parliament,” Forbes said.
Forbes then declared that in any case, that wasn’t something that was he was lobbying for.
“(Changing of legislation) is not something we’re actively pursuing for the time being, but we will continue to monitor the market.”
Richard Irvine, of Fair Wagering Australia, slammed the move.
“Nothing repulses me more than the unethical, talentless, predatory bookmaking that took hold here over the last decade,” wrote Irvine. “It has yielded somewhat but Dr. Forbes and RQ have endorsed it and told us to invest elsewhere.”
Options for banned punters on Queensland racing include CrownBet, who have committed to betting all customers to win $1000 in the 30 minutes before a race, and the recently reborn Centrebet, which has $5,000 limits on metro racing after 11am.
In better news for punters, Betfair have announced that their commission base rate on Queensland racing will be cut from 8% to 6%. This brings Queensland into line with all other states except New South Wales, which remains at 8%.