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Punters will suffer if committee decides to amend rule 4 terms.

Byline: By Graham Green

PUNTERS are set to lose if Tattersalls' Committee, the official body that governs the framework for betting on racing in Britain, decides to increase the 'rule 4' take-out at its meeting today.

The move, which seems sure to spark controversy among the gambling public, is being discussed in response to a campaign mounted by Terry Allen, a former Jockey Club betting intelligence officer who has the backing of most major bookmaking organisations.

Allen, now an SP validator for the Press Association, claims the scale of deductions levied on bets in the event of non-runners has been "totally unfair to bookmakers over the years".

He is suggesting a new range of rule 4 charges, and said: "My argument has been that the deduction on bets when a horse who is evens is withdrawn should be 50p in the pound, but on the Tattersalls' Committee scale of charges it is only 45p, because it originally decided it would make the deductions to a ten per cent overround, in other words work to 110 per cent, rather than 100 per cent.

"It's the same with 2-1. The deduction should be 33p in the pound, but it has been rounded down to 30p, and the same with 5-4; the deduction should be 44p in the pounds 1, but it's rounded down to 40p."

Allen, whose call for change is supported by the Association of Racecourse Bookmakers, Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers and the Rails Association, admits that, if acted on, his initiative will come at the expense of punters.

However, he said: "I'm just trying to correct something that is unfair, which is what I did in 1994 when I got the Jockey Club to abolish 'under starter's orders' before which, once the guy put his white flag up, punters lost their money if a horse didn't run.

"Ever since then there has not been a horse withdrawn 'under orders' - a horse is either a runner or deemed to have been withdrawn by the starter. So that was a benefit to the punter."

Tattersalls' Committee secretary Peter Guard could not be contacted by the Racing Post yesterday, but Allen added: "I don't know how long the current rate of deductions has been in force, but the betting exchanges don't work to the same principles, so obviously they don't agree with it, and it obviously needs changing, because it's totally unfair towards the bookmakers."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 19, 2008
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