BLEATING noises emanating at present from the boardrooms of Ladbrokes, Hills and Corals in their efforts to ward off an increase in betting levy and to justify their obscenely large profits, should be allowed to fall on deaf ears. We all know that, should bookmakers be forced to pay a higher levy, then the real victim will be the punter.
It seems to me, after looking at all the arguments and developments over recent years, that a strong case in favour of a Tote monopoly is emerging.
Regular punters will be acutely aware of how the odds in both horseracing and greyhounds have gradually been cramped over the years and, in this respect, the Big Three have been working in concert. I cower when I hear of punters falling over themselves to take early prices on an ante-post book, when they would be two or three points better off under a Tote monopoly.
Bookmakers at times ridicule Tote returns on certain races-an unfair criticism. They also report that their returns from horseracing are flat and uninspiring and have been so for years.
Then why don't they give it up and let the Tote take over? If 100 per cent of betting turnover were channelled through the Tote, punters would be agreeably surprised and would benefit enormously, as would the whole of the racing industry.
Every country with a Tote monopoly has a thriving industry. Ours is sinking fast because of the stifling involvement of the bookmakers.
The Big Three argue that a large percentage of their profits are derived from the numbers games and AWP machines. But the vast majority of punters use betting shops primarily for their interest in racing, and betting on numbers and AWP machines is a consequence of their actions. I wonder for how long betting shops would survive on numbers games and AWP machines alone.
Come on bookies, pay up and smile.
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Feb 5, 1999|
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