The debate was fuelled when Wilson was accused of ripping off punters, with Racing For Change (RFC) development director Nigel Roddis amongst those making their anger very clear. He said, “I think it’s in some way taking advantage of novice and infrequent racegoers who don’t understand the nuances of betting.”
The problem is one of the consequences of the 2007 Gambling Act, which gave bookmakers the freedom to set their own each way terms, which they have to display clearly. Two years ago the RCA and RFC developed a customer charter, under which those bookmakers signing up to the gold flag standard agreed to offer each way terms of wither a quarter or a fifth, dependent on the number of runners in a race.
Clearly, Wilson has not committed himself to that, and the miserly terms he offered show once again the weakness of voluntary agreements and customer charters when it comes to looking after the interests of customers, in this case, you and me, the punters.
RCA racing director Caroline Davies pointed the finger directly at bookmaker associations for the failure to reach standard terms across the board. She said, “When we introduced the customer charter we spoke to the bookmakers about standard each way terms and basically we couldn’t get agreements from the associations to adopt them across the board. We were very disappointed, but when you are representing a wide range of bookmakers some of whom support standard each way terms and others that don’t, getting agreement to it is very difficult.”
The RCA and RFC now plan to canvas the views of bookies and punters. I should think there’s universal dissatisfaction amongst punters, and one was quick to advise Wilson to steer clear of his local track when he said, “If that happened at Yarmouth there would be uproar.”