|One of the newest betting organisations in Australia is set to go against the trend set by the dominant TABCorp regarding lay wagering. AusTOTE is now embracing the option to allow punters to bet on a horse to lose, an aspect of betting that TABCorp continues to reject.|
Michael Piggot the Chief Executive of TABCorp’s betting division has said of the concept: “Betting to lose is a form of wagering that is not acceptable to TABCorp and will not be tolerated at the TAB. The concept of attempting to bet to lose is un-Australian, impractical and totally unacceptable to the racing industry”. In the ongoing battle between the Australian racing industry and Betfair, the betting to lose facility has often been cited as a defining point of objection- with the TAB and racing industry representatives believing it presents the temptation for race fixing to members of the sport.
Now one of Australia’s own companies is refuting this point of view, by offering the facility themselves. The CEO of AusTOTE, Mike King, said of their decision: 'AusTOTE will nominate a runner in a race that can be backed to lose. The lay runner will be selected having regard to race markets and will normally be the race favourite although late betting may alter favouritism. In effect it is a 'field versus the lay runner' bet'.
King then went on however to differentiate his online gambling model from Betfair’s, as well as making comments addressing the claims made by the TAB. 'Betfair has suggested that a punter can bet a horse to lose by betting the remainder of the field to win. Such a scheme is fraught with risk as different investments must be calculated for each runner and then placed simultaneously while the expected return is unpredictable as tote odds are not fixed and fluctuate and the amount of the tote deduction detracts from the scam…We do not regard betting against the favourite as a scam. The modern punter uses screen trading with a number of operators as a virtual betting ring. He is trying to back and lay horses at different odds in the same race in order to lock in a profit, no matter who wins.'
Whilst they choose different methods to provide lay wagering options, AusTOTE and Betfair are now united however, in their breaking from the traditional methods employed by the TAB. It is an interesting development for the Australian gambling industry, which is currently enveloped in an argument of the Australian racing industry versus offshore online operators. The comments aimed at Betfair, are now needing to be levelled at one of Australia’s own companies, which is adding a further division within the gambling industry, but is now casting some operators on the same side of the argument as Betfair.
King made the following statement to defend his company’s decision to offer the lay wagering option: 'There have been some criticisms levelled at the lay feature not the least of which has been that the ability to back a horse to lose raises integrity issues; that a bet may be had on a horse which might not be allowed to run on its merits. AusTOTE’s response to this is there has always been an ability to back the field to beat a particular runner. AusTOTE has also stated publicly that it is more than willing to open its books to an official inquiry into the running of a race. Unlike some other betting establishments, betting can only be conducted with AusTOTE by opening a betting account and being properly identified using the 100 points score method established by AUSTRAC. There are no cash betting facilities.'