Good morning all,
Some of you, a few weeks ago, may have read this article in the Racing Post https://www.racingpost.com/news/racecourse-bookmakers-face-licence-reviews-after-underage-test-failures/392695 in which it would appear that several bookmakers are having their licences reviewed after failing tests designed to stop underage gambling.
My take on what needs to be done on the main piece, plus today's selection.
Once again, it seems some of the racecourse bookmakers are finding themselves in hot water after the latest round of testing by a local council, in this case Windsor and Maidenhead during Royal Ascot.
From what I hear, it seems some simply cannot (or will not) bring themselves to ask and then record (via a simple button press on the laptop) whenever they challenge someone that looks under 21, which is the policy the Gambling Commission ask of bookmakers and their staff.
Firstly, let's get something straight. I'd guess there's not one of us reading this that didn't place their first bet despite not being 18. For goodness' sake, I was allowed in my local independent bookmakers when I still had my school tie on. But we now live in different times. Gambling is all around, and kids are bombarded with it via social media and advertisements at every turn. We all have a bookmaker in our pockets via out phones, and kids are easily exposed to that as well.
Again, don't get me wrong, this isn't some puritanical piece decrying the ills of gambling. Far from it, I love a gamble. What it is is a piece that asks the bookmakers and workers (and yes, that includes me) to do what is being asked of us properly, whether we agree with it or not. It's the law, plain and simple. But rather than try and get on board with the idea, many seem to simply complain that they are “targeted” or come up with other excuses for not checking a person's ID.
Let me tell you something. Many of you know I worked for HMV before I do what I do now. There, if you sell someone underage an age-restricted DVD, a game or even a parental advisory CD, you can find yourself in very hot water. The individual who committed the offence (not the company) can be heavily fined, and of course, dismissed if it is gross negligence. Thankfully this doesn't happen much – and the reason for that is simple. Every time we challenged someone for ID, it was recorded in a log book, with a description of the person, what they were buying, the date and time it took place and then it was countersigned by whoever else saw the transaction.
The reason for this? If, at some point, you were unlucky enough to sell someone underage something you shouldn't have, you then had backup if it went further. By logging all the transactions over time, it shows a record of someone that takes their responsibilities seriously. So if it did get as far as court, you had that as a great defence. Plus, HMV would run a refresher course every month on the subject, something else you can use. That was the whole point. Everybody, every now and then, lets one slip through the net, whether that's working on a bar on a busy Saturday night, or a shop with big queues at Christmas, or a bookmaker at Aintree or Ascot. When that happens, you need to be able to turn to the relevant authorities and say – here, this is what we do. We take our responsibilities seriously.
On course bookmakers have a very poor record at the moment – the pass rate on these tests is very low, compared to shops, pubs and clubs. I hear of one bookmaker that has failed almost all of his 37 tests. It's time for the books to stop the excuses and get on with what they are being asked, whether they agree with the policy or not, before they have to find themselves another career.
Today's racing doesn't get the pulse racing but there's winners out there somewhere, and it's Newcastle that might provide an opportunity for a big-price punt. The first at 5.30 is the race in question, and with four places on offer from Hills and one or two others, it's Sulafaat that makes a bit of appeal. It's been a while since she won one but she's well handicapped if she can refind her form and Rebecca Menzies may yet get something out of her. She's twice run respectably over C&D this summer and with most of this field hold-up horses, is likely to get the run of it up front. Worth an e/w try at 33s.
Good luck with all your bets today,