Proposals by the Independent Bookmakers' Association (IBA) for a bookmaker's standardisation of rules have been welcomed by some quarters of the industry.
During the IBA's AGM earlier this year it was agreed that a standardisation of rules would be beneficial and would help to prevent confusion amongst customers.
The Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) CEO, Chris O'Keeffe, welcomed the development: "We've always encouraged from day one a kind of common approach to bet settlement because obviously it's in everyone's benefit. Customers become accustomed to how bets are settled and if you've got bookmakers with different methods or criteria of settlement it can be confusing to the customer, and it's not really a common sense approach from the industry. I realise that bookmakers have certain commercial considerations but convergence in rules is a step forward."
However, the ABB's Deputy Chief Executive, Russ Phillips, was unsure how a standardisation of rules could be implemented: "The IBA say it would be beneficial to have standardised rules operating across the whole industry. Unfortunately, although this looks like yet another seductive sound bite, following that route would almost certainly see us fall foul of the competition authorities. Individual companies have to be given the right to trade on terms that are suited to their own operational requirements rather than have standard terms. Supermarkets wouldn't get away with it, neither would we."
But the IBA's vice-chair, Joe Phillips, believes the idea is very feasible: "We're just talking about rules that can be standardised so there wouldn't be an issue with the competition authorities. Every bookmaker is going to offer something different but there are certain rules that can be filtered or standardised across the board. We're talking about scenarios such as what happens in the event of an objection, or the outcome of a withdrawn horse from a five-runner to a four for example. Every customer should be able to go into any shop and become familiar with the industry rules. We've got to put a proposal together and see what the objections may be. Where there's a will it will happen."
Formal discussions are likely to take place later this year. In the meantime members of the ABB are encouraged to apply for template posters for their premises that detail rules which have been developed by the ABB in consultation with IBAS and the Gambling Commission.
The ABB's Russ Phillips believes this is an important addition for their members: "The template posters have proved a great success and, so far, over 70 independent member companies have been supplied with 150 posters. The posters draw on best practice from within the betting industry, covering horseracing, greyhounds and football - the source of the majority of bets. ABB members can amend the posters according to their own requirements regarding logos, limits, trading terms, etc. They are printed on high quality paper and laminated in a durable material, and are generally delivered within seven to ten days of a request being received."
These posters are available to current members of the ABB. For further information call Barry Faulkner on 0207 434 2111 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From BBC Sport