The campaign for a fairer deal for punters from bookmakers will take a significant step forward later this month, when the case for a “minimum bet” rule to prevent some backers being restricted to betting in pennies will be argued in Westminster.
The parliamentary seminar at Portcullis House on 23 January has been organised by Philip Davies MP, co‑chair of the All-Party Betting and Gaming Group (APPG). An invited audience will include senior officials from the Gambling Commission, which regulates and licenses British bookmakers.
Davies organised the event after being told by a resident of his Shipley constituency that his attempts to place bets of £20 or even £10 on horse racing were frequently refused by online bookmakers, who instead offered to accept just a few pence at their advertised price.
An increasing number of online punters have complained about similar treatment in recent years, while the Horseracing Bettors Forum (HBF), which was created by the British Horseracing Authority in 2015 to represent punters’ interests, has warned that restricting or closing betting accounts is damaging racing’s popularity as a betting medium.
Simon Rowlands, the chairman of the HBF, will tell the APPG seminar that a “minimum bet” rule, which requires bookmakers to lay an advertised price to lose a fixed sum, is essential to stop punters being driven away from the sport.
“We’ve come up against a brick wall of indifference, and even hostility, from bookmakers previously,” Rowlands said, “but there does seem to be a move towards addressing the issue. Discussing it in a forum like this is a significant move.”
Richard Flint, the managing director of Sky Bet, will also address the seminar before being questioned by APPG members.
Rowlands said: “There must be an incentive to tackle the puzzle seriously. That’s the whole point of betting on racing rather than having a spin in a roulette wheel. If you remove that, it has a big knock-on effect, as betting on the sport is perceived as not worth the effort.”