UK racing’s return will usher a starting prices overhaul 

The Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC) has announced that UK racing fixtures starting prices will be determined using ‘mainly off-course mechanisms‘.

The change has been implemented following a number of years under consideration, with the SPRC outlining that racing fixtures needs to better reflect their betting markets as a whole. 

Starting prices were last examined in 2015 when on-course betting maintained a significantly higher share of UK racing total wagering volumes.   

Gambling Commission statistics showed that the share of betting taken on-course had fallen to 1.4% in the year to end of March 2020  – making the case for using off-course prices correspondingly stronger.

Racetrack operators have already accommodated for changes, as starting prices for closed-door fixtures have been solely based on off-course prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SPRC stated that concerns that the off-course based system would increase bookmakers’ margins at the expense of punters is unfounded.

“The measure of margins is the overround – the higher the overround the higher bookmakers’ theoretical margins. Far from increasing under the new system, overround per race has been lower in every month of the six months,” the SPRC explained.

Implementing necessary changes, the SPRC added that when on-course bookmakers return to racetracks, its objective will be to reflect on-the-ground prices within its new system. 

The SPRC has recruited the PA to undertake the necessary technical changes to its starting price mechanism, incorporating ‘on-course price information into our current off-course algorithm’ – a project that will require approximately three months to complete coinciding with the return of crowds to venues. 

Chaired by Lord Bernard Donoughue, the Starting Price Regulatory Commission is the body charged with overseeing the mechanism by which the SP for races is determined.

Lord Donoughue said: “The SPRC has considered this change long and hard. We are now confident that the modernised SP system better reflects the market as a whole. Punters can continue to have total confidence in the SP.”

The SPRC closed its statement by thanking the Betting and Gaming Council for its constructive input in pursuing its new directive, for which the ‘workings of its mechanism’ have been published in a report available to all racing stakeholders.

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