Monday, 4 January 2010

The Decade in Sport

The comment by JustinCase12 at the bottom of this Guardian piece seems as balanced a view of the debate about Betfair as you're going to get in a post. Couldn't have said it better myself.


  1. Hi Mark,

    It appears that comments have now been removed from this article - what was the gist of the message?


  2. Really? I can still see his post. It reads as follows (I will leave in the first para even though it relates to a post I haven't added):

    A gloriously irony-free post GraemeSmith. Yes why blindly flag wave for Betfair when you could blindly bash Betfair instead? Are you David Hood in disguise? 5 paragraphs - 5 anti-Betfair statements. I don't think anyone is going to mistake that for an impartial analysis.

    Objectively, we don't know whether Betfair has increased corruption (because they've made it cheaper to oppose a horse), whether they've reduced corruption (because they do monitor who places what bet and share the info with the BHA), or whether it's much the same as it always was. There's nothing to compare to - betting with a bookie remains as secretive in 2010 as it was last century.

    As for claiming that I should pay tax on Betfair if I think a price is too short and I oppose a horse by laying, but not if I oppose it by backing others, either on Betfair or with a bookie, is plainly nonsensical. I really would like the main positives of being a bookie: being able to lay to 130%+, being able to pick and choose whose bets I take and who I knock back, and being able to claim "palpable error" if someone gets a price that's "too good". If you can show me how I get those "positives" on Betfair then I'd be delighted to stump up tax and levy.

    But regardless of those arguments 2009 was surely the year that the old chestnut of Betfair not contributing enough the the sport and hurting the levy was finally laid to rest. It didn't make this story, but surely the biggest news this year was Ladbrokes and William Hill deciding to stab racing in the back by joining Victor Chandler and Betdaq in running their internet betting operations offshore. I'd love to hear someone explain to me how the £zero Ladbrokes and William Hill will now pay is a fair return to racing, but Betfair's £7million levy contribution isn't.

    Maybe 2010 will be the year Racing will wake up and realise that Betfair isn't the devil. Despite bores declaring every year that "Betfair will kill this sport", racing is very much alive, with levy roughly double what it was a decade ago. I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen, and depressingly I reckon the sport will continue to be run for the benefit not of punters and fans of the sport, but for the benefit of the big bookies.