Regarding Basil Thomas’ letter I should point out that after writing an article about the open bet last year I had a meeting with the CEO of the KZN Bookmakers Sean Coleman together with Trevor Fourie and they stated their case.
I didn’t agree with their points, but as far as I remember they didn’t want to consider an offer to publish their point of view.
The operators have stated their point of view regarding the Gambling Review for all to see.
Furthermore the key points in the Levelling The Playing Fields article were all in quotes from the leaders of Gold Circle so there can surely be no question where the opinion came from.
The bookmakers have made no attempt to rebut despite having had plenty of opportunity to do so.
Mr Thomas’ claims “My problem is that I like transparency”, but I question which side is being more transparent here.
The public has remained in the dark for years regarding the bookmakers views on their returns to racing.
From past experience I doubt they would outline their own point of view in the Independent newspapers even if offered the space to do so.
I would like it known that personally I am not opposed to fixed odds betting and believe the punter should have the choice, but the dream situation would be to know that wherever you bet the same portion of that bet is guaranteed to be returned to horseracing.
The legendary Phil Bull, who made a fortune from betting on horses and through his publications that included Timeform, once said, “”George Wigg’s arrival at the Levy Board was the best thing to happen to racing in my lifetime.”
It was Wigg who increased the levy by getting bookmakers’ payments based on turnover rather than profits and he established criteria for the fixture list which maximised that turnover.
It is interesting to note that Bull’s chief concern throughout his life was for the deal the punter was getting as in his day, as it still is today, it was in reality the punter who made the biggest contribution to paying for racing.
In the end the health of the sport depends on the quality of the show and the quality of the show depends on the return to racing.
Lastly, I have written hundreds of articles for the Independent newspapers which have benefitted bookmakers in terms of providing insight for punters from the training tracks, jockeys etc.
In contrast I have attempted exactly three articles on my opinion of Tote versus bookmaker and those three are the only ones that have ever elicited published comment from bookmakers and/or their representatives.