David Cameron (right) with trainer John Gosden in Newmarket recently
BOOKMAKERS have welcomed the arrival of a Conservative majority government following the general election as shares in betting companies surged on Friday.
Racing will also be hoping the election of a Conservative government will hasten the arrival of a racing right to replace the levy as the principal funding system for the sport, as was announced by Chancellor George Osborne in March’s Budget.
Predictions of a hung parliament – with no party gaining an overall majority – had led to nervousness among bookmakers but following Friday’s results, shares in Ladbrokes were up 10p to 116p, William Hill shares were up 17.9p to 391.3p and share in Betfair were up 43p to 2,414p at 12.30pm.
The election result should be seen as a positive for bookmakers and racing according to Coral’s Simon Clare, who said: “Overall it is preferable to have continuity. From our point of view we have been working with the coalition and the Conservatives for the past few years when betting has been increasingly scrutinised.
“Economically, a change in government could have led to uncertainty and it is important for racing and betting that this is not the case. Sticking with what we know seems the best way forward for racing and betting.”
The security provided by a majority government was highlighted by David Williams from Ladbrokes, although the result was costly in terms of betting.
Williams said: “We will have to wait and see what David Cameron does in the the coming months but it puts us on the front foot not having to wait. It is a good thing for a PLC to know the people you are speaking with and the coming months will be an exciting time.
“In terms of betting it was quite a bad result for us. The opinion polls got it horribly wrong. A Tory majority was an ugly blot on our trading book in the end.”
Bookmakers have been under increased scrutiny in recent years
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Jon Ivan-Duke of William Hill said the bookmaker would continue to work with the new government to implement policies relating to responsible gambling.
He said: “We have worked constructively with the previous government and are very clear that under a new regime, we have to deliver on promises towards a challenging self regulatory agenda that promotes responsible gambling, minimises gambling related harm and which makes a positive contribution to communities in which we operate our business.”
Peter Craske, representing the Association of British Bookmakers, said: “During the course of the last parliament we have worked incredibly closely with the government and Gambling Commission, listening to and acting on concerns.
“We are looking forward to continuing that immensely constructive dialogue in order to further develop the responsible gambling agenda.”
The swing to the Conservatives, who had been 18-1 to secure an overall majority before voting started, began in the betting on Betfair Sportsbook following exit polls released on Thursday night, with the party shortening rapidly to 1-100 from 1-4 to be the largest in government.
Another Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition had traded as low as 1-2 on Betfair Sportsbook while a Labour minority had been 2-1 during the night.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and UKIP head Nigel Farage both stood down on Friday morning. Tim Farron is 2-13f to replace Clegg and Douglas Carswell is 1-2f to replace Farage.
Andy Burnham and Chuka Umunna are 2-1 joint-favourites to replace Labour leader Ed Miliband, who also resigned on Friday.
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