Punters win in battle over ring prices

Punters were promised a better deal from bookmakers yesterday when David Oldrey, the chairman of the Starting Price Executive, published new procedures for formulating SPs which have been devised by the accountants Arthur Andersen.

Punters were promised a better deal from bookmakers yesterday when David Oldrey, the chairman of the Starting Price Executive, published new procedures for formulating SPs which have been devised by the accountants Arthur Andersen.

Oldrey will hope that the new guidelines for SP reporters will draw a line under an argument which has been simmering since May, when the SP Executive, which was then chaired by Terry Ellis of SIS, changed the way the starting price was calculated, simultaneously producing an increase of around 5 per cent in the bookmakers' theoretical profit margins. Oldrey said yesterday that he hoped to see "a reversion to the position prior to May, but not to the pre-May methods".

The majority of bets placed in Britain's betting shops are settled at the starting price, but the punters who place them - reasoning that a winner is a winner - often have little idea of how they are formulated. It is easy to forget that while the difference between an SP return of 6-4 and 13-8 appears small, when the horse is a winning favourite, when multiplied across the industry, it can determine whether hundreds of thousands of pounds ends up in the pockets of the bookies or the backers.

The profit margins of off-course bookmakers had dipped significantly prior to May, as a result of reforms to the on-course market - from which the SP is determined - which had increased competition between racecourse bookies. After May, new methods insisted that SP reporters compile information from a pre-determined, and named, group of bookies, and based the final SP on a majority of the bookmakers surveyed. This produced a marked rise in the profit margin per runner, to the surprise of almost no one except, it seemed, the SP Executive itself.

Following persistent criticism, the SP Executive commissioned Arthur Anderson to investigate the system, and its recommendations should rectify the situation. Instead of returning the SP on the basis of a majority of prices, the requirement will be amended to one of general availability. This will be judged to be one third or more of the sample, and the best price to qualify under that definition will be the SP.

"These changes are going to hit the profit margins of the big bookmakers but I hope they will see it as the price to pay for a system that has universal confidence," Oldrey said.

The system will come into effect on Monday, when the predictions of Oldrey and Arthur Andersen will be tested. It does seem, though, that an important skirmish in the betting war has seen a rare victory for punters.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
News
Williams says: 'The reason I got jobs was because they would blow the budget on the big guys - but they only had to pay me the price of a cup of tea'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee