AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

SIMON NOTT blog: No Betting, No Racing

The attitude in racing that seems to be gathering more momentum at the moment is getting a bit tedious.

You know, the sniffy dismissive one towards betting. The attitude towards betting that it’s the unwanted piggybacking freeloader that plagues the sport of kings. The attitude that betting is a bit vulgar and not something that certain echelons of the industry are interested in.

It’s not even just those that you’d expect, those that only ever look down noses on the betting ring from plush hospitality on high. The well-heeled might have nodded to their bookie on the rails when they wanted a hundred on theirs but wouldn’t dream of stepping into the ring.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mick Fitzgerald for #BettingPeople a couple of weeks ago. It was published last week and was pretty much universally well-received. Quite rightly too, not blowing my own trumpet because it’s always all about the interviewee, Mick was tremendous. He was honest, passionate, and insightful, he also spoke a lot of sense.

One of the things he mentioned was that prize money isn’t enough. Unlike other people that have said the same thing, he didn’t say that the bookies should dig deeper and deeper into their hods to pull it up but that racing had to find other ways of funding itself other than bookmakers. They do too, even though it’s a big price to happen any time soon but there are people out there that want gambling banned. Well, probably apart from mainstream TV’S £2 plus standard rate text message, no odds mentioned TV prize draws and the National Lottery they do.

Just imagine if legal bookmaking was banned, I say legal because you’ll never stop people having a bet. There just won’t be anything to come from illegal bookies. Forget for a minute the revenue that racing gets from bookmakers. If the industry thinks that the media money would keep them going they can think again. If you really couldn’t have a bet, how many of the current subscribers to Racing TV would carry on subscribing? How many people would be watching Sky Sports Racing to justify businesses paying for all those adverts. There’d be no Paddy Power so ITV Racing wouldn’t have a sponsor, and it’s unlikely that there’d be enough revenue from the remaining people that watch just to witness the majesty of the horse.

Racecourses would be dead, who is going to go with no betting either from the Tote or the racecourse bookies. That’s something I’m certain racecourses would dispute, in many cases, I’m sure they really do consider bookmakers an annoyance that they have to tolerate. They have got it seriously wrong, no bookmakers means no atmosphere and no punters. I was going to say that with no media money racecourses that have been blatant non-triers in the marketing stakes would have to up their game and try and encourage people to come racing again. They’d have their work cut out after decades of media money induced easy runs out the back to find that sort of turn of foot. Especially as when people got to the races it was soulless.

Then there’s the horses, who is going to own them? I’m sure that there are plenty of owners that do quite happily own horses just to watch them run who have no interest in betting. Thinking about it, there must be given the number of literal also rans whose training fees are happily paid month in month out without a judge ever being troubled. I’m guessing the majority love to back their horses and dream of a touch to pay for the year’s training fees. Where’s the fun if you can’t back them?

Then there’s the trade paper, who is going to buy it and who’s going to advertise? Nobody that’s who. If there’s no betting, nobody but trainers, owners and people in the breeding industry would be interested in any of the news and that side of the business is already catered for.

Horseracing grew from a pastime for toffs to an industry and popularised by people betting on it. For some elements in racing to get all sniffy about gambling and treat it like some sort of embarrassing relation you’d rather not invite to functions is a huge mistake. Racing needs to stop apologising for betting, but turn full circle and embrace, support and promote it. If betting on horseracing thrives, horse racing thrives.


Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.

Simon Nott is author of: Skint Mob! Tales from the Betting Ring
available on Kindle 



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