UKGC: Ladbrokes shortened Tango Sky odds to maximise Rule 4 deductions

A Ladbrokes trader “deliberately shortened the price” on a horse called Tango Sky prior to a 2015 race to effect the deduction rate, the UK Gambling Commission said in a ruling published on its website on Wednesday.

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The controversial horse race took place on 9 January 2015 at Wolverhampton. It was brought to the Commission's attention as it was part of the British Horseracing Authorities investigation into trainer David Evans.

Evans had informed Ladbrokes that his horse, Tango Sky, would be withdrawn from a race. He had just placed money on his other horse, Black Dave, to win in the same race.  The move effectively allowed Evans to delay the declaration of Tango Sky as a non-runner to get better value on the £6,000 bet he'd place on Black Dave to win. 

Tango Sky’s removal triggered a Rule 4 deduction, decreasing the payout of all bets that had already been placed on the race. 

When a Ladbroke's trader discovered why Evans had placed such a large bet on Black Dave, he shortened the price of Tango Sky from 7-2 to 3-1, leading to a Rule 4 deduction which took 25 pence from every £1, instead of 20 pence, on all winning bets before Tango Sky was pulled out officially.

The Commission  concluded that a “Ladbrokes trader had deliberately shortened the odds on Tango Sky in order to maximise Rule 4 deductions”.

A Rule 4, or Tattersalls Rule of Racing, stipulates that if there is a late withdrawal of a horse or runner from a race then all bets placed prior to the announcement will have their payouts reduced.

The Commission had previously stated that “such actions would be contrary to the statutory obligation to ensure gambling is fair.”

Ladbrokes has since admitted they did not provide sufficient training for staff regarding their company policy and compliance obligations surrounding Rule 4 deductions.

The Commission said Ladbrokes initially provided the regulator with “inaccurate explanations” for the reasoning behind the price shortening on Tango Sky.

As a result of the enquiry, the Commission has provided Ladbrokes with conduct advice, which they wish to “draw to the attention of the betting industry” by publicly displaying it on the regulator's website.

Ladbrokes have also revised its integrity and inside information policies as well as making their traders take refresher courses on the issues.

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