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Are RCA going to make it harder for smaller on course bookies to operate?

Today all On Course bookmakers were contacted with the news that the Racecourse Association were intending to add a new clause to their agreement with bookmakers:

‘No bookmaker may utilise software which monitors or tracks the prices offered by betting exchanges online and, based upon that monitoring, automatically generates a price that is displayed on the bookmaker’s board.’

What does this mean?

There are two software suppliers that on course bookmakers use:

RDT. This is the original supplier which still has the majority of books under their belts. Their system links with the betdaq exchange prices.

Elite. This is the newer company that most people perceive has a wider range of functions. The company is constantly increasing their market share and their system links with Betfair. Their software has a facility to track Betfair and can automatically change the advertised price without the need for human intervention.

Why the need for change?

This matter seems to have been bought up by senior on course bookmakers who sit on liaison meetings with racetrack representatives. The reason they give is that if the software is tracking then there are constant price changes that in turn cause confusion for the punters.

What evidence is there that this is the case?

Absolutely none! The tracking software is only available on the Elite system and the complaining bookmakers all seem to be RDT customers. All bookmakers track the exchanges whether they do it manually or by the software. The issue seems to be that Elite customers who are using the tracking software (and are choosing to bet to tight margins) are able to beat the RDT bookmakers in identifying the drifters earlier so are beating them on price. Certainly there seems to be no detriment to the consumer as they have the choice of a better price.

 Banning the software looks to be anti-competitive.

There have been no significant customer disputes reported to Ring Managers due to bookies using tracking devices.

Have Elite done anything to resolve this issue?

 They strongly deny there is an issue but they have still introduced two measures to eradicate any potential confusion for customers:

*There is now a 20 second delay before a price changes.

*When the price has changed there is still a 5 second window where the consumer gets the original price.

They point out that a bookie is far more likely to get caught with a price they don’t want to lay by not using the software as tracking will never go above the exchange price.

Who will this effect?

*The customer is potentially losing out on better prices.

*Generally the bookies who would use this facility don’t have prominent pitches and using the software allows them to single man. If they weren’t allowed to track they would have to employ another person which in many cases would prove unviable.

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