Collusion accusations levied at British bookmakers

In the United Kingdom, an independent bookmaker has reportedly alleged that many of his counterparts colluded to offer race-goers less competitive odds during an event held last summer at the Ffos Las Racecourse and Conference Centre in southwestern Wales.

According to a Sunday report from The Guardian newspaper, the accusation came from bookmaker Andy Smith, who trades at the Carmarthenshire track under the brand name Festival Racing, as part of an investigation conducted by the Horseracing Bettors Forum industry group.

The newspaper reported that the Horseracing Bettors Forum study found that the horseracing odds presented by bookmakers at the Ffos Las Racecourse and Conference Centre track had been ‘notably poor’ throughout the 2017 season before highlighting the offering of August 25 as particularly inferior. That day purportedly saw an estimated 6,000 people flock to the racecourse to enjoy Ladies’ Day with Smith alleging that some of his seven counterparts utilized the event as an opportunity to fleece inexperienced gamblers.

“Because there [were] not many bookies it was easy to arrange,” Smith reportedly told The Guardian. “Let’s think of a word for it; a cartel. A bookie would come and ask you, one of the other bookies. They might say, we’ll do 3% the first couple of races then we’re betting 4%.”

The newspaper reported that this percentage relates to the hypothetical profit margin for the odds on each horse involved in a race with a higher number equating to shorter odds and more money for a bookmaker. It purportedly explained that a competitive ratio is usually below 2% while Smith moreover alleged that this practice had been particularly rife at ‘satellite’ wagering areas, which are often located away from larger tracks’ main sportsbetting rings in order to take action from less experienced bettors.

“You might not believe this but this is not a thing that happens only at Ffos Las [Racecourse and Conference Centre],” Smith reportedly told The Guardian. “It’s happening more and more.”

Mark Kershaw from Ffos Las Racecourse and Conference Centre reportedly told the newspaper that he had been ‘extremely frustrated’ by the odds offered on the August 25 action and would be writing to every one of that day’s bookmakers in order to make ‘it clear that we are really very disappointed’.

“The betting ring manager came to us after the meeting to say he was dissatisfied,” Kershaw reportedly told The Guardian. “He thought the bookmakers were not giving any sort of value to race-goers. We try hard to get the race-goers there and it needs everybody at the racecourse to pull together to make sure they want to come back again and have a good experience.”

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