With Cheltenham just two weeks away it might seem odd to be writing about Epsom and the Investec Derby meeting. But news comes when it comes, and when it’s good news about bookmakers I don’t want to delay passing it on.
This year, the Jockey Club has its eye on bookmakers operating on the Hill, where 100,000 or so people sardine themselves together to catch a glimpse of the runners. There are 185 pitches on the Hill, and at both the Derby meeting and the 26 August Bank Holiday card, bookies will have to offer each way terms there or they will not be allocated a pitch for future meetings.
Punters have complained for several years that many of the bookies operating there have offered unfair each way terms or none at all. The Jockey Club, which manages Epsom racecourse, is able to set out new requirements immediately because pitches there are allocated year-by-year.
Bookmakers are “governed” by a voluntary set of guidelines setting out the terms they should offer, but the Jockey Club, backed by the Administration of Gambling on Tracks, is to introduce the stricter terms set out below, which layers will have to display. A letter to prospective bidders for pitches at the Derby meeting says, “The relevant place terms must be displayed for each race. Breach of this obligation will result in a bookmaker being removed from the racecourse.”
|Any||5-7||1/4 - first two|
|Any||8-11||1/5 - first three|
|Handicap||12-15||1/4 - first three|
|Handicap||16-21||1/5 - first four|
|Handicap||22+||1/4 – first four|
Differing place terms are not something confined to Epsom, they are present on most racecourses, and it isn’t always easy to remember who is offering what when you walk along the displays looking for the best price, as Dickon White, Jockey Club group betting director acknowledged. He said, “The Hill is not an isolated case. I have walked around the majority of betting rings up and down the country and seen terms that are not satisfactory and do not protect the customer.”
He claimed that the bookmakers consulted about the better terms required on the Hill were positive about the move. If he’s right, perhaps we can look forward to those stricter terms throughout all the betting rings before too long.