21 Apr

Cheltenham pays Millions to live, online betting fans; Ladbrokes outrage insulting

Live, Online Betting on Horse RacesAs a typical day at the track comes to a close, we’re used to witnessing the forlorn faces of myriad bettors whose picks didn’t come to fruition. At the same time, bookies are toasting champagne to another day of raking in the big bucks. Last month’s Cheltenham horseracing festival went a little differently as live and online betting fans harvested in millions.

According to UK bookmaker Ladbrokes, who suffered heavy losses at Cheltenham, the fault lies with the race’s oddsmakers, who “abandoned bookmaking principles” when pricing the ponies.

Bettors scored huge, though, as all of the most heavily backed horses kept on winning. Live and online betting shops claim to have taken an enormous hit at last month’s festival, losing more than £60 million combined.

William Hill, the largest retail betting firm in the UK, was one of the hardest hit. In the words of Ciaran O’Brien, a spokesperson for the live and online betting giant, the whole week was “a bloodbath” for bookmakers.

Ladbrokes Outrage Insulting to Bettors

Ladbrokes Betting ShopLadbrokes CEO Jim Mullen inculpated the acute competition between bookies for what they considered to be severely erred pricing. Some of his comments may not sit well with customers, though.

“At Cheltenham we were reminded of the intense competition with offers and pricing at levels which, in our view, abandoned bookmaking principles,” said Mullen. “We competed hard but refused to pursue unsustainable strategies and our stance remains that we will compete where we know we can get the right returns from the right customers.”

Mullen went on to say his company, “will not get involved in that race to the bottom — it’s unsustainable. We’re in the gambling business, but we don’t gamble.”

As an intermittent gambler on the ponies, I personally find that last statement incredibly insulting. If we, as a society, are being encouraged to take such risks, shouldn’t the same risk fall upon the shoulders of the bookies who accept our bets? Mullen basically told us we can’t win – so why should we bother betting?

Seriously, Stop Your Whining…

These are companies who rake in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. So on a rare occasion when they have a bad week, they’re going to cry about it? Publically?

In February, Ladbrokes reported they had suffered their first annual revenue loss in 10 years. What’s a few million down when you’ve harvested billions upon billions in all that time? Your shareholders may not like it, but to the live and online betting fans who use your services (and contribute to those exorbitant profits), it sounds a lot like whining.

Day after day, bookmakers are collecting the vast majority of bets from their patrons and depositing them into enormous bank accounts. Because customers had one week with a great run of luck, they are up in arms, throwing dung-piles of blame at one another for bad pricing.

What they should be doing is thinking of the customer – the bread and butter of their operations. They should be congratulating those winners, building strong relationships with the clientele in hopes they will reinvest their winnings.

There are a lot of distinguished online gambling sites I could spend my money with. If Ladbrokes – who lost a lot less than many of their competitors at Cheltenham – doesn’t stop insulting their customers, they are going to have a lot more problems than a bad day at the races.