Sports Betting

Bookies’ disastrous Cheltenham figures revealed, operator website issues spark Grand National concerns


a seemingly endless parade of heavily-backed favourites triumphing over all four days of the Cheltenham Festival last week, it was never going to be a particularly memorable week for bookmakers.

However, figures released by sports betting social network have suggested that the results are worse than first predicted.

According to a report, bookmakers finished the festival down £3.21 per customer which, considering the volume of bets taken was in the tens of millions, indicates a phenomenally large financial dent.

Bookies also suffered losses over the course of the festival in 2015, at a rate of £1.26 per bet, a figure that was concerning at the time but that has now been dwarfed by 2016’s calamity.

Seven victories for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins, and favourites Don Cossack (9/4F) and On The Fringe (13/8F) being the first past the post in the Gold Cup and Foxhunter Chase respectively piled misery on the bookies. But it was day three of festival that cut the deepest, with favourites Vautour, Thistlecrack and Limini all winning at a cost to bookmakers of almost £17 per customer.

“The Cheltenham Festival is a shop window for bookmakers, but they’ll wish they’d closed early after the punting public well and truly cleaned them out. It was a fantastic week of racing, and a great few days for anyone who finished with a few extra quid in their pocket,” said Stephem Harris, tipster at

And in separate, but no less concerning news, research by Capacitas, specialists in preventing websites from crashing, has suggested that a number of operators struggled to cope with the high volumes of web traffic during the build-up for the Gold Cup.

With the Grand National, famous for its flurry of last minute betting that will be focused more online this year than ever before, less than three weeks away, Capacitas is predicting that operators will be throwing away money if the problem persists.

Capacitas director Danny Quilton said: “The Grand National is a hugely popular event and an example of where gambling websites must cope with extraordinary peaks in demand, typically 10-times that of a normal day.

“When a major betting website crashes at such a peak time, the lost revenue could be as high as £30,000 per minute.

“When a website slows or even crashes, it loses customers to its rivals – especially for time-sensitive events like horse races. Our monitoring found that three of the leading bookies had websites that were operating slowly because of the increase in demand during Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.”

Of the operators researched, William Hill had the slowest page-loading time at 2.9 seconds, well over the threshold of two seconds that the firm says is the cut-off point for many customers.

“In contrast PaddyPower was the winner by more than a clear length, over 10-times faster than most of its rivals, and Coral performed well across the afternoon too,” Quilton added, commenting on the better performing sites.

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