Time to say no more to bookmakers demands over fixture list - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

Racing has donned blinkers in a recession and the result could be calamitous. Its key revenue stream is in freefall, horse numbers are falling, trainers are imperilled and still more owners are soon to be driven away by promised cuts in prize money. The response of the industry? Put on yet more racing.

The 2010 fixture list was published yesterday and you couldnt make it up. Instead of prudent trimming against the imminent effects of financial meltdown, racing presented an increase of 13 in a dizzying schedule of 1,503 meetings. Yet they did so despite saying they knew it was wrong.

Ruth Quinn, racing director of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), admitted: “We have grave reservations that this number of fixtures is not sustainable and well have to keep very close attention on developments.” Before, presumably, slamming that stable door when all the horses have long since bolted.

Some sympathy is due to Quinn and the BHA. Staggeringly, at least to the outside world, fixture lists are moulded by the leading bookmakers. They have systematically held racing to ransom through the iniquitous Levy process, demanding that meetings are held to a volume and schedule that satisfies their betting shops, rather than racecourses and racegoers.

The idea that racing and betting work together is risible. Bookmaker motives increasingly involve attracting customers to play their wretched fairground machines, rather than creating a fixture list that helps racing thrive. Now, with efforts to find a replacement for the Levy apparently stuck in the slow lane, racing is more than ever obliged to operate against its own best interests.

It shames many significant racing figures that they clung to the discredited Levy even when commercial alternatives were being sought. They are now reaping the whirlwind of a craven misjudgment. “The relationship between horse racing and betting through the Levy is badly broken,” Quinn confessed.

The 2010 Levy is forecast to produce £94 million, a crash of more than £20 million in a year. Prize money cuts of at least 5 per cent are mooted. And this at a time when owners are going bankrupt and trainers seeing numbers fall. Latest official figures show the racehorse population has dropped 2 per cent - and that was before the recession imposed itself.

Racing may be hamstrung in some areas but it has been weak in others. The collapse of Great Leighs offered an easy economy, yet instead scores of expendable fixtures were offered elsewhere.

Good Friday racing - one increase with obvious benefits - has been deferred again, yet winter evening and twilight meetings on the all-weather remain, a bookmaker demand with no discernible return for the sport. Bank holidays look better, Sundays not so.

The overall impression, though, is of naivety. In a recession, the accepted wisdom is that industries cut back. Airlines trim their flights, car factories reduce their output, simply because demand will fall and costs must be cut.

For racing to survey its already swollen programme, and decide to add still more, defies business logic. No good can come of it.

Other news from around the same time

Holland Casino Installs SlotTimer from Gaming Support to Save Money on its Slot Operations - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

Gaming Support announced today that it has reached a definitive sales agreement with Holland Casino ....


Two sponsors show interest in Fontainebleau investment - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

At least two parties have a serious interest in investing in the bankrupt, 70-percent complete Fonta....


Gambling Ban Now Covers Poker in Russia - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

When Russia carried out sweeping restrictions on gambling this month, closing thousands of casinos a....


Government gambling revenue up in B.C., bucking national trend - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

B.C. is bucking the trend when it comes to revenue generated by government-run gambling.A Statistics....


Warning over fruit machines scam - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

Criminal gangs are targeting gaming machines in a new scam in Greater Manchester bars and hotels.The....


Poker Loses Its Status as A Sport - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

A government order has stripped poker of its status as a sport, closing a loophole that allowed some....


Colorado Town Bets on Gambling - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

A 33-story hotel tower is rising here, in a little mountain town where anything taller than three or....


The mystery gamblers with a carrier full of cash - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

TWO mystery gamblers turned up at Sheffields greyhound racing track with nearly £47,000 in a carrier....


Study tests city casino benefits - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

Hull Council is to spend £50,000 establishing the regeneration benefits a so-called "large" casino w....


Port considers moving - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

The Port Canaveral Board of Commissioners is considering relocating SunCruz Casinos from the cove si....