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Bookmakers a commercial partner to the dogs


The new boss at the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), Barry Faulkner, has hit the ground running in pushing the sport forward. Simon Banks reports.


GBGB W


hen the then newly formed GBGB appointed former Olympic champion Ian


Taylor as its first chief execu- tive at the beginning of 2009 it was thought that an outsider to the sport could bring a fresh approach and unite the regulatory functions of the NGRC and the commercial role of the BGRB. However, following a fiasco surround- ing Taylor’s attempts to save money by the pooling of drug test samples, Taylor was forced to resign and a new leader was sought. Taylor’s successor Barry Faulkner couldn’t have been more different. The former Mecca Bookmakers finance director was the secretary of the ABB and the chief executive of BAGS; a man more ‘inside’ the greyhound racing busi- ness would be hard to find. Faulkner believes that his background in the industry has helped him settle into his new job quickly: “I come to meetings and I don’t have to be introduced to many people and there not many strangers around the table and I think that that is bene- ficial. There was one meeting I went to where I knew every- one around the table and I could have role played any of them in that I knew what they were going to say because I knew where they were coming from.”


The greyhound racing


industry is characterised by the diversity of its stakehold- ers; bookmakers, track pro- moters, owners and trainers all have different aims and agendas and reconciling them has historically proved extremely challenging. Faulkner is acutely aware of this and sees his role as getting the different factions to work together: “My long term aim is be a facilitator to widen the exposure of grey- hound racing for the benefit of all of greyhound racing. I will do what I can but there are limits to what I can do.” Some critics within the sport have suggested that Faulkner is perhaps too close to the bookmaking industry but he doesn’t see a problem: “I see the betting industry as a commercial partner of the greyhound industry and we are inextricably linked. What benefits them from betting on our sport also benefits us.” In his role as a facilitator Faulkner sees to areas where he hopes to able to influence stakeholders to the general good of the sport’s finances; increasing exposure through TV and internet coverage and the creation of a large jackpot bet. “The problem is that the tracks have the rights but there is I think a growing real- isation that with 25 tracks there are great swathes of the country that don’t have access to live greyhound racing and the challenge is how we grow exposure, either through TV or the inter-


ANALYSIS


THE PERCEPTION THAT THE GBGB IS FIT FOR PURPOSE COULD BE BLOWN AWAY WITH ANY REPEAT OF THE SEAHAM SCANDAL, WHICH IS WHY BARRY FAULKNER WANTS WELFARE TO BE AT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA. THE INTRODUCTION OF MICRO-CHIPPING, THAT ENABLES DOGS TO BE TRACED


THROUGHOUT THEIR RETIREMENT, IS PART OF A NEW SYSTEM THAT CAN STOP SUCH A SITUATION


OCCURRING AGAIN: “WELFARE IS NOT SOME NEBULOUS CONCEPT, IT IS ABOUT WHEN A DOG HAS FINISHED ENTERTAINING US THAT WE MAKE SURE IT IS WELL LOOKED AFTER AND THAT WHEN THOSE DOGS ARE RACING WE MAKE SURE IT HAS THE BEST AND SAFEST


CONDITIONS IN WHICH TO PERFORM.”


Betting brands up for sale


SALE S


pread betting operator IG Group has reportedly commissioned


PricewaterhouseCooper s to find a buyer for its fixed odds arm


Extrabet. The Sunday Times suggested that IG was looking for around £20m for the online brand, although there are question marks over whether there is any appetite in the market for the bookmaker at that price.


Another betting


net and link that to a betting product, with say a decent jackpot. Those are things that I want to explore.” However, Faulkner realises that such innovations will take time to achieve: “I think it is a case of not running before you can walk and I want to get around and speak to a few key players in the industry and see what is pos- sible. At one time the idea of a dedicated TV channel was an anathema to the tracks but it maybe that there is more of an appetite for it now.” The threat to the GBGB’s authority posed by the animal welfare lobby has receded for the time being. The Sunday Times revelations of greyhounds being culled in Seaham, was described by Faulkner as a ‘huge jolt to the sport’ but one to which it seems to have successfully adapted. The GBGB has been accredited by UKAS, which


Faulkner sees as a vote of confidence in its regulatory competence: “I think the independent regulatory func- tion and UKAS accreditation are very important and that has formalised the relation- ship and shows that we are even handed when it comes to regulatory issues. What UKAS accreditation has done is to say that the organisation is fit for purpose and that we do have that independence that enables us to do the job as effectively as we can.” Faulkner concluded that although the GBGB is now only 18 months old, it has the structure and the per- sonnel to be able to take the sport forward after years of decline: “You’re not always going to get every decision right, that’s impossible, but at least we’ve got the frame- work there to make sure we do the job to the best of our ability.”


brand that has been put up for sale is Betshop - Leisure & Gaming’s European retail betting operator. Primarily an online gambling operator, L&G was severely hamstrung by the passage of the UIGEA in the US and in recent years has needed Betshop to prop up its finances. However, the firm has hit another financial cul-de-sac and has agreed to sell Betshop Europe in order to bridge the gap. The company made just 600,000 euros (£492,000) in the


second quarter of 2010, half the amount from the previous year because L&G had to limit its exposure to betting losses during the World Cup.


Chisholm relaunches machine promotion GAMING MACHINES I


ndependent firm Chisholm Bookmaker has renewed its Summer Machine Mania promotion - a marketing scheme designed to encourage play onto the firm’s Nevada gaming machines.


The bookmaker has even listened to its betting shop customers to tweak the pro- motion to best suit their needs and improve on its 2009 incarnation as one con- tinuous contest with a leader board updated weekly.


Machine controller Marian Farrell explained: “It came to light that last year teams towards the bottom of the leader board


lost enthusiasm as the weeks ticked by as they felt they had little chance of winning. This year we have broken it down into three month long competitions and the top three from each month will go forward to the final. Hopefully, this will keep all the shops motivated as they have three chances to make the final.”


The top nine teams will battle it out in the final week for the top prize of a VIP night at Wembley Stadium to watch an England inter- national match, provided by Chisholm’s machine sup- plier Global Draw. The company has also supplied all the marketing tools


08 BettingBusinessInteractive • SEPTEMBER 2010


through its machine manager gaming folder, which included scratch cards, collector cards, lucky dips and the highest score competition.


Farrell added: “Scratch cards were the most popular with customers last year and so we have ordered more from The Global Draw this time around. Top prize is £20, second prize £3 and third prize is a drink or chocolate bar from the in- shop cafe. This promotion will run in all shops through- out the 13 weeks.”


The betting shops have all been provided with point of sale material, t-shirts and badges for staff members to


wear throughout. Shops also offer free tea, coffee and small snacks to ensure customers are comfortable and happy - which Farrell describes as an important part of the promotion. She added: “We value the important role the gaming machines play in our shops and we will have an ongoing focus on machines. Each year we will distribute feed- back forms to ensure we listen to what works and keep tweaking it to make it as successful as possible.”


Staff advertise the Summer Machine Mania promotion with t-shirts


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