Former Bookmaker Decries Rise of Online Bookmakers

Not everyone would be in agreement that the move to online punting has been entirely positive. Those who run the racetracks across the country have seen attendance declines. Those who used to stand in the rings and go toe-to-toe with all comers eventually found themselves wandering around the courses with cardboard placards reading, “Will Bet for Food.”

One former rings bookmaker that would second this assertion is Laurie Bricknell. He spent close to 30 years in the game, concentrating most of his efforts in the Gold Coast, back in a time when the biggest betting ring in Australia could be found on Queensland’s coast.

In Gold Coast for a ceremony to mark his induction into the Gold Coast Turf Club’s Hall of Fame, Bricknell did not seem too fond of the way racing has changed under the watch of the corporates, as more people have chosen to stay at home and punt and click computers or mobile devices, rather than go out to the tracks to wager.

In remarks published by The Courier-Mail, Bricknell had this to say, “The corporates have stuffed it and there’s no watchdog on corporates. They can do whatever they want to do and they are not forced to bet. On a racecourse, you are forced to bet every punter that comes along, whether they’re a professional or amateur.”

Bricknell has not been making book on races since 2000, when he retired after working Gold Coast rings from 1971 through 1998, and then finishing out in Brisbane.

One comment he made might sound like music to the ears of punters.

“Under today’s conditions the punt is better than bookmaking. There’s no money on racetracks anymore. The only money that comes is on telephones and it’s often tough money,” he said.

Bricknell’s induction coincided with that of Rough Habit, a horse from the operation of New Zealand trainer John Wheeler. Rough Habit was a Kiwi galloper from back in the days when a horse had to actually do some racing. He made 74 starts back in the late 80s and early 90s.

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