When it was first launched many moons ago, the Best Odds Guaranteed promotion was seen as the bookmakers finally giving something back to their customers.
Thanks to the promo, punters would be handed the best odds no matter when they placed their bet. So, if the price that took lengthened after placing their bet, the customer would be paid out at the higher odds if their pick obliged – that was the BOG way.
Well, now a handful of the leading UK bookmakers are saying bog off to BOG – removing the promotion from their virtual shelves either partially or completely.
Unsurprisingly, many punters have been left feeling rather cheesed off by the move….
The trendline for the demise of Best Odds Guaranteed actually began in 2023, when Betfair – in a bid to direct punters towards their typically better-priced Exchange platform – removed BOG from their offering in October.
There was no explanation nor much in the way of warning – a concise email to customers and that was that.
There was perhaps a certain business sense on the part of Betfair to remove a concession that ultimately costs them money they don’t need to lose, while at the same time pushing punters from the sportsbook to the Exchange and not missing out on their bottom line.
If punters thought that was a one-off, it wasn’t long before William Hill – whether inspired by Betfair or acting independently – also removed BOG from their high street shops and online platforms in November.
Their sister company Paddy Power had already removed BOG from races held at Arena Racing Company tracks back in August (around 40% of all races are hosted by them) – and yet the offer remains for meetings held at venues owned by anyone else other than ARC. If that seems somewhat petty, it’s perhaps a reaction to an increase in costs that the bookmakers are facing; more on that later.
They removed Best Odds Guaranteed from Irish horse racing as far back as 2022, but now British meetings are also squeezed for ‘some’ customers.
With the momentum rolling on downhill, SkyBet have now become the latest firm to stop offering BOG to all but their ‘qualifying’ customers – which presumably means those who sign up to their loyalty club.
They had already ended their Best Odds Guaranteed offering for races in which extra places are paid, but have now confirmed as of January that it will be removed across the board for everyone but those who join their loyalty programme.
Why are Bookies Removing Best Odds Guaranteed?
Once upon a time, Best Odds Guaranteed was a real feather in the cap of the bookies that offered it – a loss-leading concession that attracted new customers and helped them to gobble up market share.
But today, BOG has become so ubiquitous that there’s no edge for a bookie offering it – and yet they lose money paying out at longer odds than they strictly need to.
It’s easy to see the removal of Best Odds Guaranteed as a cost cutting exercise, because that’s exactly what it is – at a time when the government’s review of the gambling industry, and the likely fallout of regulatory changes, will see some of their revenue streams potentially disappear….particularly if high-rolling punters opt for black market firms rather than hand over their sensitive personal information via affordability checks.
The costs of running a betting business are on the rise too. The minimum wage increase will see shop staff earning more per hour, while landlord rents and energy bills are on the rise – putting the squeeze on high street betting shops at a time when many firms have already started to close down all but their most profitable of retail outlets.
Times are getting tighter for the digitally-focused firms too. The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents the interests of a number of UK-facing brands, claims that media rights fees – which allows bookies to stream racing and other sports in their shops and via their website and app – will rise to £315 million a year in 2024; a considerable increase on the £270 million charged back in 2022.
It’s likely in the future that firms will be asked to give more of their profits over to problem gambling charities, while payments made into the horse racing levy continue to hit all-time highs.
To balance the books, businesses have to cut costs – in this case, that means that punters have to suffer with the loss of concessions like BOG.
Can You Still Get Best Odds Guaranteed?
Yes you can! Without wanting to name names, there are still UK bookmakers offering Best Odds Guaranteed on many different meetings throughout the week – look hard enough and you will find them too.