Jockey Club Racecourses want to give their customers a uniform betting experience across their 15 tracks, which include Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom and Newmarket. They have announced plans that will require all bookmakers operating at JCR venues to offer the same each-way terms.
The move is designed to do away with the exceptionally skinny place terms of one- sixth or one-seventh the odds that have been creeping into the betting ring in recent years. If the plans go through, the terms on offer will be identical to those offered in high street bookmakers, with one exception. On course bookmakers will be able to bet one-fifth the odds for the first four places in handicaps with between 16 and 21 runners; we’ll only get one quarter the odds if there are 22 or more in the field.
Inevitably, there will be resistance in some quarters, but on the whole, bookies have reacted positively, and the move is one which some, such as Geoff Banks, have wanted for some time. Dickon White made it one of his priorities to seek an accord when he took up the post of JCR group betting director six months ago. He said, “We are very keen to work with the on-course bookmakers. We very much value their input and see them as a key part of the raceday experience.”
The raceday experience is a term we can expect to hear more frequently from the executives at JCR, as they seek to expand the audience for race going. They describe the objective like this. “We want more people to share our passion - to experience the thrill of going racing and cheering home a winner. We want those who have never been racing to be confident that they will have a great day out.”
Fair and equitable each way betting will help with that, as Tony Styles, from the National Association of Bookmakers acknowledges. He told the Racing Post, “It will be in our interests and in the racecourses’ interests if we can get people back on the track betting. Some (bookmakers) have gone over the top with absurd place terms and we want that sort of thing to end. I think the majority of bookmakers will be pleased with this.”
We’ll find out whether they are in three months time when the consultation period comes to an end.