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Horse racing set for trial of new odds system

Bookmakers at a racecourse
The new decimal odds will be trialled to gauge the reaction of punters

Proposals to modernise British horse racing's image, including an end to traditional odds, have been unveiled.

The initiatives announced by the Racing For Change taskforce on Tuesday are aimed at boosting the popularity of the sport and attracting a wider audience.

Among them is a plan to end the use of the fractional odds system currently used by the betting industry.

A racecourse trial in the spring will see odds of 15/8, for example, becoming 1.9/1, and 6/4 becoming 1.5/1.

Among other plans are a major overhaul of fixtures to create premier racing events and clearly defined seasons.

In addition, all jockeys and trainers will be listed on racecards by their first names as well as their surnames and official racecourse announcements will be simplified.

The Racing For Change board features representatives from all of the sport's key organisations and stakeholders.

Racing pundit John McCririck told BBC Radio 5 live that a decimal-odds system would be good news for bookmakers but bad news for punters, and could even put racecourse tic-tac men and women - who signify odds using hand and arm gestures - out of business.

He also predicted that bookies would take away decimal figures from their odds, resulting in a lower return for people who placed winning bets.

"It is to the disadvantage of the punters," said McCririck. "100/8 is a return starting price of 12.5/1. Now it could be 12/1.

"It will be under the next biggest price they could have given - they will be shaving odds.

"Bookmakers will gain out of all of this, as they will do from all the proposed changes. Consumers are the people who will pay for all of this. Part of the colour of the racecourse will be gone."

McCririck also said he was concerned about the enforcement of any new decimal system on racecourses.


"Who can compel racecourse bookmakers to go to decimalisation rather than offer the traditional fractions?," he stated. "Is there any law out there to make them do it? Racing is the most reluctant sport of all to change."

However, he added: "I am not opposing the change. Change is right."

BBC Radio 5 live's racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght predicted the decimal-odds proposal would not be universally popular in the racing world.

"Racing is struggling to hold its own in the media, in the nation's psyche and in the betting industry, where its share of turnover leading to income is declining," he said.

"Most eye-catching is the plan to do away with traditional fractional starting prices and replace them with easier-to-understand decimal returns. Traditionalists won't like it."

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BBC racing coverage
09 Apr 11 |  Horse Racing

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