Wednesday, September 22, 2010


With the Betfair float news coming out it raises a few questions, many of them the same old questions as always. I dont know quite what to make of the actual float, what I do know however is that everything Betfair do is done to suit themselves and no one else, so as regards improvement for the customer - I'd be odds against. No change is the best we can hope for IMO.

I read a really good piece on the BHA statement of the float by Mark Davies here, expressing the opinion that the BHA have absolutely no idea what theyre doing, an opinion I hold too. But this bit is the most interesting because of the figures:

Yes: back in 2002, Racing was a significant part of a bookmaker’s business. I am revealing very little, and in any case drawing on residual and previously-published knowledge, when I say that eight years ago, it constituted about 80% of Betfair’s revenues. So, too, am I divulging no secrets if I state that now, it accounts for less than 35%. Indeed, I remember it getting as low as 21% of Betfair’s weekly revenues, although admittedly that was in a seven-day period when the football calendar was strong.

How exact or up-to-date the figures are is academic. The fact is that today, Betfair (like most bookmakers) runs a global business, to which the relevance of British horseracing is, unfortunately, falling by the day. This sad and simple truth is clearly lost on Racing’s leaders, who continue to play their cards as if they hold every trump when in reality they hold almost nothing. Indeed, most people have moved on to a different game.

Theres many reasons why its falling. But IMO, 1) Were changing generation, 2) People are giving up due to the quality, and 3) BHA are living in the past.

Changing generation could be a massive factor in the long run for horse racing. When I say 'horse racing has become boring,' my opinion is rubbished by the old lovers of the game - something I completely understand sure its their sport. But they dont understand (or even listen in fact) to where I coming from: the 20 something generation have all been raised in an era of instantness. Instant coffee, microwave dinners, 1000 TV channels in each home, high speed broadband, an iPhone because you cant wait to read the internet until you get home, an iPad because its too far to leave the couch, Full Tilt Poker have invented 'rush poker' - a game where thousands of people play one game at numerous tables and as soon as you fold a hand youre dealt another so theres no wait, the high stakes players multi-table because just one table is boring, Betfair have the casino and arcade (as much as I hate them), everything in life is instant. Instant, instant, instant. So, we as a generation, have a short attention span and seek action as quickly as possible - for the buzz.

Put this into effect with my day. I wake up at 11, breakfast, jog, gym, back at 2, flick on the TV - theres the cricket - check the teams, check the weather forecast and check the pitch, in two minutes I have everything I need, I'm ready. Football is similar, lots of sports are similar. Now, compare that to how long it takes to get ready for horse racing, how many hours studying form before it even starts? Two? One at least to go through everything? Theres a VERY select few people who have the will power, patience and time to do that - every day. Other sports have (or are) changing to meet this instantness: cricket/T20, snooker/shorter game coming in (on BBC this week actually), darts/the premier league. Those sports are changing to keep up with the giants football and tennis by changing. What has horse racing even tried in terms of re-branding? Stick a singer on after racing, hows that improve racing?!

The next generation havent been brought up on horse racing, and seek excitement without spending time or knowledge, and the old generation are dying off - the figures back it up, 80% back in 2002, and now that were swapping generations its down to 30%, or even as low as 20%. And thats where it is - one in five people (roughly as guide off the figures) coming into the betting world seek horse racing as their sport, whereas before, there was no choice. It was into the bookies, theres the horses - bet, but now you have every sport. Easier to understand ones, quick ones, and FOBTS, online poker, instantness.

Horse racing, IMO, will never return to 80% levels, and as the last generation completely die off it'll only continue to creep lower and lower because my generation havent been rared on it and see it as a sport of lesser appeal. Right, thats fine, accept it for what it is. Oh wait, the BHA are still living in 2002. Christ.

You know when youre in a pub, and you see a great big fat girl swanning around like she owns the place, shes 30 stone but thinks shes Cheryl Cole. Not only does she lose out on the looks department, but also the personality as she has a terrible attitude. Well, the BHA are that fat girl. Just like the fat girl in a bar, she thinks shes amazing, but shes far from it, the BHA go to the bookies/Betfair wanting to call the shots, act like the big dog, when the bookies/Betfair are sitting there going 'hold on, youre only 20%, youre no where near in charge here.' And rightfully so. Also, something I'd really love to see would be the percentage of traders in the Betfair market too - no doubt that accounts for near 50% (or more?), so if Betfair are settling at around 30%, the bookies figures must be lower when you think about it.

Theyre like that old arrogant set in his ways man who just cannot except anyone elses opinion but his own. Thinking what youre selling is worth €100 isnt going to MAKE people pay €100. So, as soon as the BHA understand their position and come join us in the real world, we shall be able to move forward then. But until they do, its the classic case of two nutters arguing over "value" on the Betfair forum in the middle of the night, one thinks its a "value" back, one thinks its a "value" lay, except with this argument theres no race to say 'I told you so' after, so its just keeps going on and on and on. Quite obviously here though, the BHA are the mug punter and the bookies/Betfair are the shewed one. I am genuinely surprised the BHA cant just look at the figures and accept theyre at best 30% of the sporting market now and thats here to stay, thats the problem with old men I suppose though, they can never see past what they think.

Anyway, I'm in the 'lost the will power' boat on horse racing at the moment, hopefully it'll come back, Coolmore have having a quiet year but mainly my spirit has been broken by the daily gash were served up. The amount of time for the reward just isnt worth it IMO, but fair played to the people who do. Got back on the road after Monday nights loss this evening anyway, am DELIGHTED that Eng won the series, with all the stuff happening (dont mind them winning a game but) didnt want Pak winning. (NOTE: its not over yet but Eng are 1.02, theres a decent film starting on TV, Pak 6 down anyway and not scored a boundary for 22 overs).

1 comment:

  1. Spot on really.

    I work in a bookies and as the old ones die off they aren't replaced. Young ones are interested in 1. Football and 2. Machines. There is no culture of horse racing any more for the young, it's expensive and inpenetrable and doesn't sell itself. If they could bookie shops would be all roulette machines with a little tele in the corner showing racing, and that, sadly, is the future. Racing is fooked and it doesn't even know it.