Starting price returns may stay with off-course sources when crowds are back

  • Betting rings dropped from operation during pandemic
  • Move would give large firms foothold in the system

The 150-year-old system of returning starting prices from racecourse betting rings could be quietly abandoned before the expected return of crowds – and bookmakers – to racecourses this year, the Observer can reveal.

Instead, the system of industry SPs using information from major off-course operators, which has been used to return SPs since racing went behind closed doors in June 2020, is likely to be either wholly or largely retained, finally giving the biggest firms a permanent foothold in the SP system that some, at least, have coveted for decades.

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