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Drongo's Controversial Opinion

  • Bookie's Odds are Bookie's Property

  • Victorian PubTAB Operators Don't Have a Clue

  • Punter's Clubs in Melbourne

  • Victorian Tabcorp's Inadequate Austext Service

  • Tabcorp Decides Which Horse You Bet On

  • Money-Back Dividends - Outrageous

  • Smoke-Free Victorian TAB's - What a Joke!

  • Free Tours of Flemington Racecourse

    Bookie's Odds are Bookie's Property

    In Australia, bookmaker's betting odds are not supposed to be transmitted beyond the confines of a racecourse. This is stipulated in the Rules of Racing, as follows;

    It is illegal in this state at any time while a racemeeting is being held to communicate information relating to actual or estimated betting odds by any means to any person not on the racecourse.

    Anyone using a mobile telephone for this purpose will be liable to be prosecuted and may also be prohibited from entering racecourses.

    However, this information is being transmitted in several different ways.

    Bookmakers have been permitted to use mobile telephones on-course for some time now. Recently it was decided to allow the general public to use mobile telephones on racecourses (in all but a few areas), but these devices are being used to convey bookie's odds to people outside the racecourse. One can see this happening at any race meeting. Racing stewards claim this is not permitted and they will prosecute anyone found in breach of this ruling. This has not stopped the proliferation of abuse of this particular rule, which you may think irrelevant. But if you consider that bookies are a dying breed, and that many horse-racing people regard bookies as essential (for several reasons), keeping bookie's odds on-track is one way of retaining bookmakers (a very important punting resource). Transmitting odds to people outside the racecourse is helping the opposition players, namely SP (illegal) bookmakers and the totalisator.

    Another way bookie's odds are being transmitted outside the racecourse is via the racing radio and television media (free-to-air and cable). Prior to each race the commentator at the racecourse tells listeners the bookmaker's odds (from the betting-ring) of all the horses in the upcoming race. He tells listeners the odds without actually stating the prices. This is done by a clumsy code, known to every man and his dog, such as;

    • yours for theirs (or toss of the coin) - even money
    • a fraction under half each way odds - 7 to 4
    • half each way odds - 2 to 1
    • a fraction over half each way odds - 9 to 4
    • a point under each-way odds - 3 to 1
    • half a point under each-way odds - 7 to 2
    • each-way odds - 4 to 1
    • a point over each-way odds - 5 to 1
    • double each-way odds - 8 to 1
    • double figures - 10 to 1
    • and so on .........
    Fair dinkum, who do they think they are fooling. This situation is so stupid when you think about it, and makes the people (and the rules) involved look really foolish.

    In some cases they don't even bother disguising the prices and give them out verbatim.

    Racing authorities should 'bite the bullet' and decide this issue one way or the other.

    Here's another example of flaunting the rules. When racing is taking place at their racecourses, Tabarets/TABs operated by racing clubs display bookies odds on monitors in their TAB sections. Take the example of Caulfield Tabaret. Although the venue is on racecourse property, one doesn't have to pay to enter the Tabaret/TAB on race-days. However, the punter is allowed to see all the bookie's betting-ring odds (from all metro tracks around Australia) on overhead monitors. This is clearly in breach of regulations, but allowed to occur.

    Confining bookie's odds to the racecourse would also help to arrest the decline of race-meeting attendance figures. If the punter can get all the information away from the racecourse, why would they bother to attend a race-meeting. I mean, the minimum racecourse entrance charge is $6 ($3 concession), and on a bad weather day is not as comfortable as an off-course TAB, PubTAB, or private lounge-room.

    When I'm punting off-course I take advantage of this privileged information. However, it's not really fair if you work out for yourself that a particular horse is very good value on the tote, and they tell everybody over the radio or TV that the horse is very good value on the tote compared with the bookies. The tote price invariably tumbles after this privileged information is broadcast to all and sundry, off-course. It isn't fair that my value has been taken away by illicit means. The people who benefit from this are lazy and have not put in any work identifying the value, as they simply hear the information over the media and then back the horse.

    Drongo says keep the bookie's odds on-course and help arrest the decline of bookmakers and racecourse attendances.

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    Victorian PubTAB Operators Don't Have a Clue

    Serious Victorian tote punters don't go anywhere near PubTABs. These TAB outlets are usually run by people who know more about pulling beer than providing serious punters with proper punting facilities. Generally speaking, the odds monitors are inadequate, results are not posted, adequate form is unavailable, etc, etc. There may be enough monitors but they are never tuned to the Austext pages that real punters require. Other stupid things I've noticed recently are;

    • channel 7 audio permanently blaring from an Austext monitor, which was tuned to channel-7 for the Austext facility.

    • the monitor labelled as 'next race' tuned to a different page. Only three monitors were available and none of them tuned to the 'next race' page. There were six meetings under way at the time.

    • one of three available monitors permanently displaying only the 'index' page, which is useless. There were six meetings under way at the time.

    • I recently popped into a PubTAB to have a bet and watch a race only to find the Sky TV tuned to an afternoon variety show, with a pub employee watching the show. I left in disgust!
    These are just a few examples of the inadequacies of PubTABs, which unfortunately are taking over from the traditional TAB agencies.

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    Punter's Clubs in Melbourne

    For a bit of harmless fun I recommend taking part in a Punter's Club. All members money is used for wagering, as the people running the Punter's Clubs (who do the punting on your behalf) are paid by the racing club. Pools can range from about $3,000 up to $10,000 and beyond. The large pool gives the small punter a chance to take part in multiple betting, usually outside their normal betting constraints. It's also a good sharing experience as the large group of club members can cheer home the same horses, and through the afternoon can chat about their common cause. The Punter's Club concept is as follows;

    • usually run by two people, with at least one of them being a punting expert

    • tickets are usually $10 or $20, buy as many as you wish

    • Caulfield and Sandown have the Punter's Club, usually hosted by Keith Hillier and Ray Huxley. Tickets are $20 each. All betting is done via the tote. Various prizes are given to people who buy tickets in the club. Also on offer is the free membership CoxBet club, offered by the bookie Cox. A $100 bet with CoxBet is offered at every meeting the Punter's Club operates, jackpotting if not claimed.

    • Moonee Valley has the Winner's Club, usually hosted by Sean Cosgrove and Shane Templeton (the straight-six specialist - who recently snared the straight-6 for the Winner's Club, scooping the pool). Tickets are $20 each. All betting is done via the tote. Prizes can be won by participants (ticket buyers).

    • Flemington has the 'Punter's Bonanza', overseen by racing legend and author Ned Wallish. Con Marasco (aka Tony Rickards) and racing journalists Bernie O'Brien or Brian Meldrum are usually in charge of betting and prize distribution. Tickets are $10 each and betting is done with either the bookies and/or the tote. There is a prize wheel for members where free bookie's bets can be won.

      Some years ago I won a $100 bet, backed a 5/2 winner (Penghulu), and walked away with $350. On Saturday 12/6/99 I again won a free bet, this time to the value of $40. The free bet is treated like cash, ie. you get the $40 (or whatever) back if your bet is successful. I was going to play it safe and have the $40 on an even money favourite in Sydney but changed my mind. This was fortunate as the hot-pop was unplaced. Instead I looked for a bit more value and had 100 to 40 (odds of 5/2) Camarena in the Queensland Derby, which led all the way and bolted in! You bloody beauty. $140 straight into the kick - thanks very much.

    • The bookies used to shout club members a free drink if there was a 20/1 (or better) winner at Flemington on the day. It was supposed to be for members only but people come from everywhere with their hands out whenever a roughie got up. It was sheer pandemonium. I think the free-drink bonus has been suspended. However, there are other give-aways throughout the day.

    With all these clubs, all remaining money at the end of the day is divided up between ticket holders. I once received about $250 for my $20 outlay at Caulfield. We got a jackpotted straight-6. On my way home I found a $50 note on the foot-path. Now that's what I call a good day at the races.

    Some country race-clubs have Punter's Clubs. Some hotels and clubs also provide this facility. There is a team of Sport Radio 927 (Melbourne) Punter's Club conveners who travel the PubTAB circuit.

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    Victorian Tabcorp's Inadequate Austext Service

    The Austext service provided by Tabcorp is inadequate. I have lobbied long and hard, over several years, for daytime results to be available in the evening. Several times I have been assured that this would be fixed, but it hasn't happened. Managers I have spoken to about this have agreed results should be available in the evening, perhaps they were humouring me! Other state's TABs have no problem providing this facility.

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    Victorian Tabcorp Decides Which Horse You Bet On (The Dreaded Substitute)

    With some forms of multiple betting Tabcorp provides a substitute if any of your selections are late scratchings. The substitute is the tote favourite 15 minutes before the advertised start of the race. As most betting occurs in the last five minutes the substitute is rarely the tote favourite at race start. However, I firmly believe that my money should not be placed on a horse that I have not selected. On the NSW tote, for example, substitutes are not given. Instead a special dividend is declared on the live leg of your multiple bet. To me this is the only fair way. I believe the NSW tote is much more professional and fair than Tabcorp, in this example as well as others.

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    Money-Back Dividends - Outrageous

    Victorian Tabcorp often returns a dividend of one dollar for a one dollar outlay. Somehow this doesn't seem quite fair. I can lose my money but I can't win. By law, other state's TABs must give some degree of profit for a winning bet. Seems reasonable to me.

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    Smoke-Free Victorian TAB's - What a Joke!

    After decades of smoke filled Victorian TABs a decision was made (some years ago) to make TAB agencies smoke-free. At the time this was seen as a real break-through for those punters who don't enjoy breathing other people's smouldering tubes of tobacco leaf. Since that time we have seen a steady growth of PubTABs, with the traditional TAB agency becoming an endangered species.

    Guess what has happened to the smoke-free TAB policy in a PubTAB. Correct, it's open slather for the smokers once more. Even if you can find a traditional TAB agency, which is supposed to be free of smoke, you will find that smokers stand in the door-way whilst their putrid filth wafts into the room.

    I think I'm getting emphysema, and I only smoke second-hand (or should I say second-lung).

    Thanks for nothing, Tabcorp!

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    Free Tours of Flemington Racecourse

    On Flemington race-days there are free racecourse tours conducted by VRC hostesses. This is an excellent opportunity for the unprivileged to gain access to places they usually cannot go. As part of the tour you get to walk into the mounting-yard, watch a race from the area between the placegetter's stalls and the jockey's room, and watch (close-up and personal) the jockeys weighing-in after the race. Fantastic!

    Tours leave from near the entrance to the Bird-Cage. You are also taken to other parts of the racecourse. Ask at the race-book kiosk near the Bird-Cage for further details. There are currently two tours each race-day, 15 minutes before the 5th and the 7th races. As these tours are not advertised very well, there are usually only a handful of people on each tour.

    Please note that you don't need to be dressed up to take the tour. Although it takes you through member's areas you can wear jeans and a tee-shirt if you wish.

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