Starting rates for UK racing fixtures can be calculated by ‘mainly off-course mechanisms,’ according to the Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC).
The move was made after a number of years of thought, with the SPRC claiming that racing fixtures should best reflect their overall betting markets.
Starting rates were last investigated in 2015, when on-course betting accounted for a considerably greater portion of overall wagering amounts in UK racing.
Share of on-course betting fell to 1.4%
According to Gambling Commission figures, the share of betting done on-course fell to 1.4 percent in the year to the end of March 2020, making the case for using off-course rates much better.
Since starting rates for closed-door fixtures were solely dependent on off-course prices after the COVID-19 pandemic, racetrack operators have already made adjustments.
Concerns that the off-course based scheme will raise bookmakers’ margins at the detriment of punters are baseless, according to the SPRC.
The SPRC explained: “The measure of margins is the overround – the higher the overround the higher bookmakers’ theoretical margins. Far from increasing under the new system, overround per race has been lower in every month of the six months.”
On-the-ground prices within new system
When on-course bookmakers return to racetracks, the SPRC announced that its aim would be to represent their on-the-ground rates under its new framework.
The SPRC has retained the PA to make the requisite technological improvements to its starting pricing system, which will include adding ‘on-course price information into our current off-course algorithm’ – a process that will take three months to complete to align with the return of audiences to arenas.
The Starting Price Regulatory Commission, headed by Lord Bernard Donoughue, is in charge of monitoring the process that defines the SP for races.
Lord Donoughue, in announcing the move, said: “The SPRC has considered this change long and hard. We are now confident that the modernised SP system better reflects the market as a whole. Punters can continue to have total confidence in the SP.”
The SPRC concluded its statement by thanking the Betting and Gaming Council for its positive feedback in the creation of its current directive, which has the ‘workings of its mechanism’ released in a study open to all racing stakeholders.