TAB odds-makers lure in punters with the promo slogan: "You know the odds, now beat them".
But less than three months before New Zealand's biggest betting day - the November 4 running of the Melbourne Cup - they have cracked down on a Kiwi punter who has excelled at doing just that.
TAB executive general manager Glenn Patrick recently wrote to Christchurch man Graham Beirne that the betting agency was losing "a significant amount of money" on his fixed odds betting, so it had to adjust the amount of money he could win.
In a move which the 67-year-old hit out at, he can now not win any more than $2000 on a win or place bet, and cannot win any more than $2000 even on a combination multi. He must also place all his bets by 9.30am on respective race days.
"It's more like, ‘You know the odds, now beat them. But if you do, we'll cut you'," a fuming Beirne said. "On the one hand they're complaining about leakage - don't bet overseas, they say, but you can only back losers in New Zealand - ‘You can play in our sand pit but only if you lose'."
Beirne owned Kate's First when it won the 1997 Auckland Cup.
He has been a passionate supporter of harness racing for more than 50 years.
But the TAB's stance had him questioning his future support for the industry in New Zealand.
"I put $1 million into the industry every year through 25 racehorses, plus broodmares and sponsorship, but I'm at the point of thinking of selling the lot and going and playing bridge," he said.
He added in a written response to Patrick and the TAB: "The owners that continue to race horses are supplying the product for your customers to generate turnover. Have you also considered that while my past betting has cost you money on fixed odds, every time I line up a horse in a race it is making you money on the tote?
"No doubt you also have other large winning customers but how many of these people contribute product for your customers to be on to the degree that I do? I would suggest none."
Beirne had offered a compromise over betting limits, but the TAB had rejected it, he said.
Patrick told the Sunday Star-Times it was standard practice around the world for corporate bookmakers to restrict winning punters. He believed the way the TAB was treating Beirne was fair and reasonable. He would not confirm how many other punters had similar restrictions.
"One of our objectives under the Racing Act is to maintain a profitable wagering system and we need to take that obligation seriously," he said.
"There will be clients who have better information than us, or who are better than us, that we will need to put limits on."
- Sunday Star Times