An Open Letter To Racing CEOs From Richard Irvine

Fair Wagering is back on the agenda for this punter's advocate

Richard Irvine

Richard Irvine has been a long-time Fair Wagering advocate, fighting the fight for punters around Australia who are unable to get on.

He was instrumental in getting the Minimum Bet Laws introduced in 2013. Richard has now written an open letter to racing CEOs because he believes fairness in the marketplace needs attention. With his permission we’ve reproduced it below:

I have been one of the leading advocates for punters in Australia for some time, and because of this I get a lot of feedback from punters regarding minimum bet limits (MBL) – and I would like to pass it onto you. Firstly, thank you very much for acting and introducing a MBL, it has kept the industry open to many punters and we are very grateful.

Onerous documentation

This is the most pertinent issue. Even after a punter has been verified, if that punter has a winning run, bookmakers ask the punter to provide onerous amounts of documentation simply because they want to get rid of them as a client. The bookies ask for; details of how you fund your betting account, evidence of the source of funds, documents supporting your employment even if self employed, your last 3 payslips, details of all IP addresses and computers used for your betting account – and all these documents must be witnessed by a JP. A huge invasion of privacy.

Bookies continue to use this technique knowing that many punters will find it all too hard or simply not have the documents. It is deeply unconscionable that bookies do this and it has to stop. They do it knowing they are doing the wrong thing but they don’t care and they will continue to do it until you act – and you have to act because we all know integrity is paramount in our industry and the bookies who choose to do this have none. I understand that bookies in very isolated cases use this approach to make sure someone is not placing bets for someone else (i.e. bowling) but if they want to do this they need to show you they have very damning evidence they suspect fraud, in 99% of cases bookies won’t be able to provide this, it will simply be that the punter is too good for the bookie.

Betfair and “price sniping”

Bookies use BetFair as an excuse to reject bets because they think that punters shouldn’t be allowed use BetFair as a tool, but ironically all bookies use it to help price horses and are intrinsically linked to Betfair via robotic algorithms which they have designed. Not all bookies use BetFair as an excuse to reject bets but many do, and the rules of your MBL need to reflect that it is a dynamic market and punters can use any market guiding tool they like to have a bet, just like the bookies do.

First in gets set for a bet

I believe that your MBL should state that whoever is the first punter to a price gets set for the bet, no matter if they use a robot (I don’t know of any punter who does but I know that EVERY bookmaker does), if they are following BetFair or even if they are a bookie betting back. The rules around this at present are too ambiguous and lead to bookies bending the rules to reject bets on punters.

9am race day rule

This has been the longest and most consistent gripe of punters. They feel that bookmakers should have to bet from the moment they put a price up. No one is forcing them to put a price up so if they decide to put a price up it should be publically available to all punters. The larger bookies like SportsBet, TabCorp, Bet365 all put their prices up first, and many of the smaller less confident bookies don’t go up for 24-48 hours after prices first go up. So it would seem that if bookies were compelled to bet punters from when ever they go up bookies could still watch the market move, and then put prices up when they feel comfortable.

Betting limits

As the market continues to consolidate some thought needs to be given to increasing betting limits depending on a bookies turnover levels. The market is still quite fluid but that may change in time.

I, and all punters would like your feedback on these issues. Please contact me further if needed, as I have a deep market knowledge and would love to help keep the market cranking and fair for both bookies and punters.

Cheers,

Richard Irvine

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