Talking Horses: does horse racing actually face an ‘existential chance’?
The internal combustion engine, powered flight, electricity, customary suffrage, and two international wars are only a few of the transformative innovations, discoveries and activities that have come about seeing that horse racing and bookmaking started out their very successful affiliation inside the 1790s.
So it is quite some thing to open this morning’s Racing Post and read that Richard Flint, until very recently the leader govt of Sky Bet, feels that racing and betting face an “existential risk” as a result of more and poorer attitudes closer to playing, both in Parliament and inside the British public in widespread.
Flint spent 18 years at Sky Bet inclusive of a decade inside the top job. He turned into also, nearly uniquely for this sort of senior government in gambling, willing to have interaction with punters on social media and give an explanation for – or try and provide an explanation for – why his company restricts the stakes of normal winners.
“The profile of those who think about [gambling] as a vice and harmful, and argue that its miles the one’s things, is higher now than it has been in my enjoy over the last twenty years,” Flint advised the Post. “That angle is greater influential amongst policy makers than other perspectives.
“That is why I think it’s miles a risky second for the betting industry and by extension for the racing enterprise because there are extra politicians with a completely terrible view of the enterprise than there are with a nice view.”
When requested if racing and betting face an “existential chance”, Flint pointed to recent regulation in Italy, which raised gambling taxes and banned TV advertising.
“The political state of affairs may be very unstable,” he stated. “Gambling is some thing that in the intervening time all the events agree desires to be extra surprisingly regulated. It is pretty workable that an Italian-type state of affairs could broaden and this could affect racing. If all marketing was banned it might take racing off the terrestrial TV, it would prevent race sponsorships and it would do substantial damage to racing’s budget.
“I don’t suppose it might do anything to solve the problem of gambling addiction and there may be a situation in which that type of things takes place, so the hazard might be existential.”
Well, something’s feasible, inclusive of 100-1 winners of the Grand National, which is one of the motives that bookmaking has survived – and thrived – for greater than two hundred years. And Flint is honestly accurate that tighter regulation of the whole enterprise, and the online zone, in particular, is most effective a rely of time.
But the idea that new policies ought to effectively alter betting – and therefore racing – out of existence is pretty a jump. The great notion that there is a need for tighter law of playing – which I manifest to share – is a response to the 2005 Gambling Act, which shifted the regulations within the opposite route (a lot so, in fact, that it’s miles often hard to peer the boundaries in any respect).
The 2005 Act did away with the long-status distinction between having a bet, in which the operator can lose, and gaming, where they can not. The maximum obvious impact changed into the explosion of gaming machines in what had previously been high-street betting shops, and even as tighter law of the stake stages has lately started out to address that huge mistake, there aren’t any limits on line.
As a result, there’s a huge temptation – in reality, almost a business vital – for bookies like Skybet to use making a bet as a loss leader to attract new clients, who are then pushed towards gaming merchandise via emails, texts and “unfastened spin” offers on their apps. But making a bet and gaming aren’t complimentary merchandise. It isn’t always “all just playing”. One is the enemy of the other, and the failure of the 2005 Act to comprehend the distinction become perhaps the inner most of its many flaws.
Humans beings will gamble whether or not it’s far prison or not, and the most practical way for a government of any hue to cope with that truth is to have a legal, nicely-regulated playing enterprise which will pay its taxes and embraces its social duties. We are some distance away from that at present, however, if the main consciousness of the next Gambling Act is on gaming, that is where it should be, making a bet – and racing – may want to virtually gain as an end result.