In my last ‘proper’ blog (i.e. not counting those which had, respectively, a photo of Shadow Creek and one from Antigua) I wrote about ‘The Match’, the Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson $9 million exhibition in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving weekend. I also referred to the fact that the PGA Tour was eager to take advantage of a change in the laws in America which would enable it to rake in the financial benefits of having sports betting on its platforms.

This is potentially huge money. On the BBC’s website, its golf correspondent, Iain Carter, noted that in-play golf betting accounted for 77% of Bet365’s revenues last year. The speed (or lack of it) at which golf is played, plus the very nature of the sport itself, means it does lend itself to this. This is good news for bookmakers. Whether it is for golf is a different matter. As Carter said: “There is already gambling on golf but [‘The Match’ is now taking this] to another level. So far the sport has been spared a betting scandal but it needs to be wary of the way integrity easily disappears when betting becomes a central part of the proceedings.” Carter also wrote about many golf viewers/punters being “lured by Ray Winstone’s [the face of Bet365] uninvited living-room incursions instructing us to take note of changing odds and have a wager.”

However, in a piece a couple of weeks ago, Greg Wood, racing editor of The Guardian, wrote about a development that may mean, as he put it, “Ray Winstone’s loss, many will feel, is the armchair fan’s gain.” All the major bookmakers, online or otherwise, will soon be signing up to a ‘whistle-to-whistle’ ban on advertising on sporting events, from which horse racing alone will be exempt. In other words, there will be no betting advertising permitted on golf coverage while the event is being shown. (This applies to any sporting event bar racing which begins before 9 pm.) Why have the bookies done this without being forced to? In Wood’s opinion it is because this suggestion – which was expected to feature in the next Labour manifesto – is just about acceptable to them whereas¬†if they did not choose to act “responsibly” (to use Mr Winstone’s go-to word) then they may have been forced to swallow a far less palatable pill further down the road.

Let’s see what happens. In any event, I’ll see you in 2019. Enjoy your Christmas!

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