Racing: Bell calls for change

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CHRIS BELL, perhaps the most influential figure in the off-course betting industry, yesterday called for a "visible, easily accessible and independent route" for the resolution of disputes between punters and bookmakers.

Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Betting Office Licensees Association, Bell - the organisation's chairman and also managing director of Ladbrokes - said that "customers want to know that when they place a bet, if there is a problem they have a realistic and transparent redress to their query.''

In this, Bell merely echoed demands from the now-defunct National Association for the Protection of Punters, although he insisted later that memories of NAPP had nothing to do with it. Indeed, he feels The Sporting Life's Green Seal Service, much-reviled by NAPP, is a good starting point. "The punter has to know it is not just a bookmakers' quango," he said. "We need to give what we've got a much higher profile.''