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Punters will be hit by 'rule 4' increases; Changes seem certain to fuel controversy as they favour layers.

Byline: By Graham Green

PUNTERS are going to be hit in the pocket after Tattersalls Committee, the official body that governs the framework for betting on racing in Britain, decided to increase the 'rule 4' take-out on non-runners.

The changes, which come at a time when punters are being subjected to higher overrounds, and seem certain to fuel controversy as they favour the layers, have been approved following a campaign mounted by Terry Allen, a former Jockey Club betting intelligence officer who had the backing of most major bookmaking organisations.

The new formula involves a sliding scale of charges, whereas previously prices were positioned in groupings with a 5p differential between categories. In many cases, this has meant rounding up deductions that were already a sore point with many backers.

In the event of an evens chance being withdrawn, punters will face paying 5p more, with the levy rising from 45p to 50p in the pound. Similarly, 5-4 will be 44p, compared to 40p; 6-1 rises to 14p from 10p; and 10-1 is 9p, from 5p.

Tattersalls Committee had betting exchanges in mind when describing the revisions as "a reflection of the more accurate deductions in place with other outside agencies", although it emerged yesterday that Sunday's planned introduction of the new charges is still under discussion and could be delayed because of technical implications for the Press Association and betting industry.

Allen, now an SP validator for the Press Association, claimed the previous 'rule 4' deductions "were totally unfair to bookmakers" because they were operating to a 110 per cent overround. He both proposed and provided the blueprint for the latest approved charges, but is unapologetic to punters, who he benefited earlier in his career when spearheading the abolition of the 'under starter's orders' rule.

Allen said: "Even though the changes do favour the bookmakers to some degree, they are still not on a level playing field, especially where races have few runners.

"For example, if you've got a field of three runners, priced 2-7, 7-2 and 14-1, and the secondfavourite is withdrawn leaving a two-runner race, under the new deductions, bookmakers will still be betting to only a 90 per cent over-broke book.

"The charges are not beneficial to myself, and financially they don't make any difference to me, but I could just see there was an injustice, and it needed correcting, so in that respect I am pleased Tattersalls Committee has revised the deductions. They are now certainly fairer than they were."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 27, 2008
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