In the second part of our interview with pro gambler NEIL CHANNING, we ask him what advantages Betconnect offers people who sign up for Punter accounts and also get his views on racing’s battle to retain its position as the main betting medium ahead of football.
QUESTION: Obviously for Betconnect to be a success it needs lots of Punter members to match the Pros. What’s in it for them?
Neil Channing: There’s a three-cornered stool and it falls down if one of the corners doesn’t get what it wants. I would say the strongest corner of the stool are the Pros. I don’t think you’ll have a problem with them. In terms of the bookmakers who are getting stuffed with these bets, that could be a potential corner of the stool that falls down but I as I understand it there are a lot of people who use Betconnect and open accounts with bookies to facilitate the bets so they have a load of other bets and provide good turnover.
The ‘recreational guy’
The third side of the stool is the small recreational guy who goes onto Betconnect as a Punter and needs to be able to open other accounts to truly benefit and to have a good user experience. If they look at the Pros’ ROI levels, then they can take a view on whether it’s somebody whose bets are worth following and they might want to have some money on the selection themselves with a bookie.
Betconnect keeps the interface as simple as possible which greatly helps. I for one, find it very easy to use. You tend to find the more complicated these things are, the harder it is to persuade people to play. Many Betconnect Pros are loyal customers who leave money in and use it every day. The recreational guys come and go, try it out for a while and might follow a specific set of rules. Some of them will enjoy Matched Betting and looking for bonuses – extra places and so on – when they follow the Pros.
QUESTION: Are bookmakers now generally less interested in trying to promote horse racing? Are they concentrating on football, which is becoming more and more popular as a betting medium?
Let’s use Bet365 as an example. They have become less aggressive recently but they did have a policy of offering best place terms on every race and matching the best prices offered by high-street bookmakers from 10am. Bet365 used to offer a lot of concessions. They cut back recently but before that they were betting overbroke on placed markets on most of the big races on Saturday.
They would attract a lot of customers. People felt why wouldn’t you bet with them if you could get an account but the business model was to convert those people into playing other things like casino games and so on and it has been a hugely successful model for them. Racing has been thrown under the bus by that. It’s not very good for the sport. Loss-leader pricing like this makes it hard for other bookmakers to compete and in the long term they could be driven from the market so we lose competition.
People that watch racing are an aging population, it’s not a sport that attracts the young that well. They’re trying hard and I’m not overly critical of the people running the sport but racing is generally for older people.
You need money to go racing and younger people generally don’t have money. After many years of people going without pay rises and the whole world being in credit card debt older people are the ones with the money. They bought their houses for three times their salary, they have nice pensions and they have time to go racing. If you go racing mid-week or you go in a betting shop and see which people are actually betting on racing you’ll tend to find they’re all over 50 and over 60 which is not brilliant for the long-term longevity of the sport.
Social media influence
The other thing is social media. The world has become a little bit prone to not having huge concentration levels. Racing has its jargon, has quite complex entry criteria you can’t get into it unless you can understand the expressions and jargon. You have to understand certain things to be a winning punter. You need to learn about the handicap system, the Pattern, what horses go on what kind of going…
There are so many aspects and maybe we just live in a world of instant gratification. Football is everywhere, you can watch a game for a few minutes and take a view on it. It’s more universal. Younger people like it, now they’ve started doing request-a-bet, cash out and accumulators. They like that kind of thing. Unlike racing, you need an exotic bet to get a nice price and people seem to enjoy doing that.