Latest Cases - April 2012

5th April 2012

Good afternoon, friends,

In this issue of Punters' Verdict....

  • More on our friend Mick....
  • Nobody at home in Newbury....
  • If you can't beat them join them....

More on our friend Mick....

The Punters' Verdict readership is fast becoming one of my most
valuable sources of intelligence on events and happenings within the
betting industry.

Last week's column on Mick Fitzgerald and his tipping activities -
if you haven't seen it then you can check it out right here -
generated a response that helps fill in a few gaps and raises some
additional considerations:

  • MF (not Mick Fitzgerald!) has direct experience of
    Fitzgerald's services - when they were managed by a guy called Peter
    Sandrovitch.
    There were three services in all - Dark Horse, High
    Roller
    and the VIP Service. When you complained about one service
    you were simply shunted to another. 'All of them between them just
    covered every favourite on every particular day's racing. And guess
    what... They all lost!!!!!!!'

  • AM is another with experience of Fitzgerald. He writes to tell
    us: 'This is not his first venture into the tipping business! He had
    a service where you contacted him on a daily basis... he would
    provide you with about 3 tips (most of them favourites and most of
    them odds on shots) with a strike rate of 1/3. If you were in that
    service it was not long before you were in Queer Street. Sometimes
    he would tip you a big priced runner, around the 3/1 mark, and
    recommend it e/w. Needless to say it would finish out with the
    washing!'

  • GE raises an interesting point: 'I don't actually think the
    mailshot is from Fitzgerald, but someone trying to cash in on his
    name.'
    That's always a possibility. But I feel strongly it's not the
    case in this instance. There are so many reviews of the Fitzgerald
    services on the major forums - most of them negative - it's hard to
    believe Fitzgerald wouldn't have taken steps to set the record
    straight if his name was being hi-jacked and abused by dodgy
    operators with such frequency.

  • KF has a novel way of dealing with the kinds of operators who
    write to you telling you they can't get on and then ask you to put
    your money down on their behalf in exchange for the tip.... KF
    writes back saying: 'If you're having difficulty getting on and you
    want to send me the money up front, I'll be happy to invest it on
    your behalf.'
    We like it! KF tells us he's had no takers so
    far and that he'll let us know if that changes. We won't be holding
    our breath.

Nobody at home in Newbury....

For the last week I've been hitting the phone and trying to contact
someone at the number given out in Fitzgerald's promotional
literature. I wanted to ask a few questions:

  • Is the ex-jockey Mick Fitzgerald really the man behind the
    'Mick Fitzgerald' services?

  • Where can I find a detailed record of the results achieved by
    the various services?

  • Can the results be verified with an independent proofing
    service?

  • What's the average price of the selections he gives out?

  • Why doesn't Mick bet with his own money?

  • Why does his operation revolve around betting with my money -
    meaning I get poor value on every bet I place?

Umpteen phone calls to the Newbury landline - but all to no avail.
Nobody is home.

Nobody answers. Instead a recorded message politely informs me: 'I'm
sorry but we cannot connect you....'

Has the Fitzgerald operation cleared out - leaving behind just a
bare office and a ringing phone that no human being will ever answer
again?

Has he decided that he isn't as good at tipping horses as he was at
riding them and given up the game?

Or is this merely a hiatus? Will Fitzgerald mount the favoured ruse
of tipsters past and present and pop up again a little further down
the road - with a new service, a new pitch, a load of new promises,
a new address and a new phone number?

Only time will tell. Watch this space....

If you can't beat them join them....

Not content with just competing with traditional fixed-odds
bookmaking firms with its exchange product, Betfair has decided to
introduce a fixed-odds sportsbook of its own - with Betfair standing
the bets just as a traditional bookmaker (like William Hill or
Ladbrokes) does.

It's been sold as an additional service for Betfair's 4-million
registered users to take advantage of. But it also smacks of running
scared.

Betfair say the fixed-odds product is necessary because a portion of
its users like to bet with traditional bookmaking firms that offer
punters the opportunity to bet ante-post or in-play on events and
markets that Betfair doesn't.

So why don't they just introduce those missing opportunities on the
exchange platform?
Why does the situation necessitate a move into
fixed-odds bookmaking?

Profit is one possible motive. Betfair is a business and exists to
make profit. If a move into fixed-odds bookmaking produces that
additional profit then the move is understandable. But at this point
nobody knows what the effects of running a fixed-odds sportsbook
alongside an exchange product will consist of. It could be a
disaster - financially and otherwise.

Another possible motive revolves around hedging bets....

Maybe the move into fixed-odds bookmaking is a signal that Betfair's
dominance is waning - much like its share price since flotation?

Maybe the traditional bookmaking industry has figured out how to
attract punters back from the exchange - with offers and concessions
that Betfair simply can't match or compete with effectively?

And maybe the key punters - the 900,000 considered to use Betfair
regularly - are choosing more and more to bet with the traditional
bookies?

Maybe - just maybe - Betfair has realized that there are a finite
number of punters prepared to embrace and get to grips with exchange
betting and that future growth prospects are limited?

Maybe - just maybe - we are witnessing the first tottering steps of
a long-term strategy designed to change Betfair's core business to
fixed-odds betting and its primary focus to becoming a leading
traditional bookmaker not very much unlike its competitors? A gold-
plated case of 'if you can't beat them join them'?

Interesting times lie ahead....

I'll be back with the Verdict next week.

The Judge

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