Racecourse body meet bookmakers over fall in on-course betting
‘Everyone is walking around with a bookmaker in their pocket in terms of their phone’
Ireland’s racecourse body is in talks with bookmakers to try and reverse the slide in on-track betting but concede it is very difficult to see what can be done.
Figures for the first half of 2018 released by Horse Racing Ireland show that total on-course betting was down 10.7 per cent to €30.2 million compared to the same period last year.
On-course bookmaker turnover fell by 11.5 per cent to €26.1 million, continuing a remorseless slide over much of the last decade in that sector.
HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh pointed to a weather-affected programme in the first quarter of the year but said: “A change in betting habits continues to make the most telling contribution.
“The Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) is sitting down with the bookmakers to discuss their business model and see where changes can be made.”
AIR chief executive Paddy Walsh confirmed talks are taking place and that a report will be made to HRI in the coming weeks.
“The difficulty is technology. Everyone is walking around with a bookmaker in their pocket in terms of their phone. That’s the single biggest effect if you look at the fall in on-course bookmaker turnover.
“There’s nothing we can do about that. But we are meeting with bookmakers to see if there’s anything else that might help.
“The only real initiative we’ve come up with in latter times is trying to move bookmakers around the racecourses, particularly at bigger tracks, where people might say ‘I can’t be bothered’ going down to the ring when I’m having lunch or whatever.
“That’s certainly been a bit of a help and we might try and expand it a little bit. But to make any kind of serious effect is very, very hard,” Walsh said.
HRI’s half-year statistics also showed a 1.3 per cent decrease in the total number of horses in training as well as a 2.3 per cent decrease in attendances. The average attendance was down one per cent.
More positively there was a 19 per cent increase in new owners and a 43.7 per cent rise in new syndicates.