One of the most interesting developments in greyhound racing in the last year is the introduction of off-track betting (OTB). Launched in England and Wales as part of the Betfair Group in November 2018, the new betting option is already stirring excitement amongst the racing community.
OTB gives punters the opportunity to place bets on the outcomes of races that their dogs are not involved in. The concept behind it is to provide a safe and secure environment for people who want to bet on dogs and dogs only, outside of the official race meeting. If you’re unfamiliar, dog racing is a sport that involves multiple dogs competing against each other on a track, with the aim of running faster than their opponents for a better score.
The opportunity to place bets on sporting events is nothing new, and bookmakers have developed a variety of ways for the betting public to do so. However, with the rise of TikTok and other social media platforms, the concept of watching games and betting on them has become immensely popular. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the sport, some people may look at betting on dogs the same way they look at betting on horses: as a quick way to make money. This is why the introduction of OTB in greyhound racing is so exciting.
As a result, the industry has worked hard to ensure that the safety of their dogs is not put at risk by offering a variety of measures. To protect their investment, they have created a special unit to monitor and regulate off-track betting, known as the Greyhound Leadership Council (GLC). The unit is made up of senior figures from within the sport, and it’s mandate is to protect the integrity of the sport by minimising the risk of money laundering and other illegal activity.
Additionally, other safety measures have been implemented throughout the industry to ensure that their dogs remain protected and that the betting public remain confident that the sport is safe to participate in. These include:
- Dog passports
- Increased security checks at entrances and exits
- ID scanners at the gate
- Sensory dogs trained to detect abnormalities in scent
- Laser scanners at the gates
- Personal alarms for dogs
- Dog welfare officers
These measures, along with OTB, are all part of the industry’s commitment to maintaining the sport’s integrity and safety. They recognise that while they want to ensure that the sport is as safe and legal as possible, it cannot be all-encompassing and take the form of restrictions. Ultimately, they want to establish trust with the public and establish themselves as a responsible and transparent industry.
What is betting on dogs?
Although he is in awe of the technology incorporated in modern smartphones, Mr Steve Bannon, (Executive Chairman, Tronc Inc), when speaking about Twitter in April 2019, stated: “I think people are finding social distancing more enjoyable on the internet. You can keep tabs on friends and family and not have to go to the pub with them.”
Similarly, when it comes to placing bets on dogs, you do not have to meet the dogs in person before making your wagers. Instead, you can keep track of them through photos or videos posted on social media sites like Twitter.
This, in turn, makes it easier for potential offenders to disguise themselves as someone else and go undetected while betting on dogs. To further reassure the public that the sport is as safe and above board as possible, bookmakers operating in the UK have adopted ethical practices when it comes to dealing with bettors. This includes not asking for financial or personal information, respecting privacy, and ensuring that their betting sites are accessible for all users.
What makes a good dog?
In his book The Political Psychology of International Relations, Dr Edward Connor discusses the concept of ‘normative fusion’ when it comes to international politics (p.69).
Put simply, normative fusion is the process through which individuals and groups come together to form “normative expectations about how things should be and ought to be” (p. 69).
For example, many people believe that all dogs should be microchipped. The procedure is relatively painless, and it only takes a few minutes to complete. Moreover, it provides proof of ownership in the event that your dog is lost or stolen. As a result, the microchipping of dogs is widely accepted as standard practice amongst pet owners, while also making the animals more identifiable and, therefore, more traceable.
Another example of normative fusion is the rise of veganism in modern society. Over the past few years, more and more people have taken a stance against the use of animals for food. As a result, those who adhere to a vegan diet expect others to follow suit and refrain from eating animal products. Although this stance is not exclusive to millennials, the rise of veganism amongst this demographic has helped fuel the trend.
The future of off-track betting in greyhound racing
With more greyhound packers moving to a closed circuit model, the industry is looking towards the future and trying to figure out how to remain relevant, both now and in the coming years. One of the ways in which they are doing this is by looking for ways to enhance their players’ experiences. This includes implementing new policies and offering attractive betting opportunities to keep their customers engaged.
OTB is one area in which they can do this, and it provides them with a new revenue stream, as well as the opportunity to attract new customers. If you’re a fan of dog racing and looking for ways to engage with the sport, you will be interested in watching the development of off-track betting in the coming months.