Top 5 Cons of Becoming a Bookmaker
#1 – Plummeting turnover and skyrocketing costs
Talking about the races in specific, it has become almost impossible to justify on course operations as a one-man entity. The turnover is nothing like it used to be at one point of time, excluding those odd festival days and Saturday races. Furthermore, there is immense competition from professional entities like Betfair, implying that the betting ring actually cuts out its own throat and equals the prices at market’s front end, on fancied runners (mind you, no commission is paid by the punter either). All this has resulted in ring getting dramatically shrunk, and there are only a handful of wealthy operators doing some business, apart from some off-course firms who make their presence felt from time-to-time.
If you look closely, the betting ring actually bears a great resemblance to a car-boot sale; you can see all sorts of shabbily-dressed middle-aged men, doing their best to arbitrage another £ 200, just to get their home electricity restored, apart from some slightly better-looking older men, who made hay when the sun shone well (or perhaps their fathers did).
Nothing denying that Saturday races still continue to attract big crowds, providing plenty of business to the part-time bookmakers, who only indulge in this occupation on weekends. In fact, this is what has become of the game over a period of time – it has gotten converted into more of a hobby, instead of a full-time job.
#2 – Tremendous amount of job stress
Anyone who has done any business in his life would be fully aware of the troubles and frustrations that come with it. However, if you are a bookmaker, you get the worst of everything, especially the worst of the commercial world. Not only will you have to bear the brunt of constantly increasing bureaucracy pressures and taxes, the money management needs can be highly challenging too. At core, bookmaking is a 100% cash-based business, running in a cashless world. Hence, bookmakers are always trying to stay afloat with ample funds, enabling them to hedge liabilities, at the same time doing all they can to keep the winning punters, staff, gambling commission and taxman happy.
Moreover, you never know when a major bank may decide to close your bookmaking accounts, and terminate a long-term relationship! The ground reality is there are many bookmakers who lead extremely turbulent lives. It isn’t always about ladies and champagne. A great number of them have gotten beaten by the times and have faced dramatic consequences on their personal lives, and on the lives of their ring colleagues.
#3 – Travel pressures
For a bookmaker, a regular day at work means driving up and down the country, getting stuck in traffic, reaching late everywhere and facing the ire of multiple people. You can’t expect to do any analysis and form study if you’re parked in a 3 hour jam each day on M25!
A great number of on-course bookies have given up bookmaking altogether just because of the several hours it can take some times to reach from point A to point B, well ahead of the first race of the day. What more, they have to then lump their staff, umbrella, computer and more half a mile, just to get the setup going, inside some deserted betting ring, and then pay more than £ 120 as marketing fee for the tote to be promoted. It’s a daily grind for all of them. Not to forget the travel costs involved in all of this! All these eat into the bookmaker’s profit margins, eating well into an already depleting bottom line.
#4 – No hope with no margins
If you look closely at the sports betting industry, you’ll notice that the bookmaking ring is now mainly comprised of fiddlers who do their best to place £ 200 bets at 2.50, and then try to have £ 195 back at 2.60 on some machine, trying to eke out a few quids on every race of the day. Gone are the days when layers like that of a Barry Dennis used to be termed the favourite for several grands. The on-course market has somewhat transformed into a rather joyless and bland place, with the same kind of prices being offered on all the boards; and price movements are dictated by the goings-on in the cyberspace, instead of any real-time cash transactions happening on the track.
In addition, the constantly depleting on-course turnover implies that it has become extremely difficult to make a book, on any given scale. What’s the point in taking home 5% of the turnover on a business day if you’ve put in £ 3000 and have to pay close to £ 300 in exes only?!
#5 – Market has become extremely competitive – you either evolve or die
Bookmakers throughout the world are continuously evolving their operations, specifically from the technology perspective. They are incorporating computerised boards and tickets, thus making betting far more accessible and transparent for the general public. Sports bettors no longer feel scared while placing bets, and with the introduction of television advertising, scratch cards, lotteries and more, betting has indeed become an integral part of the present-day culture.
However, it is the sports betting game’s nature itself, which has meant that it can’t compete efficiently with the Internet based firms, especially when it comes to the expenses and prices. The ring has no option but to offer something extra and different to the sports bettors, whether in terms of colour, noise, ambience or the provision of collecting winnings in hard cash. The present-day model of mirroring the Betfair prices at market’s front end, is actually unsustainable in the long run.