The Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC) is an independent body responsible for the integrity and accuracy of the starting price (SP). The SP is used in the settlement of the majority of bets on British horseracing struck with licensed bookmakers in betting shops or through their websites. The job of the Commission is to ensure that the returned price accurately reflects the price available to bettors on-course at the ‘off’ of each race.
The SPRC does not set individual prices, overrounds or margins, nor does it set targets for what they should meet. Indeed, its members would not wish to do so and substitute their judgement for that of the on-course marketplace. The SPRC’s responsibility is simply and straightforwardly to set the parameters by which the SP is calculated and to ensure, so far as within its power, that racecourse bookmakers and the SP Validators – and the technology that they use to monitor on-course market movements – are operating within the framework it has specified.
The SPRC is not responsible for the conduct or integrity of on-course bookmakers. Any complaint about the fair settlement of an on-course bet should be directed first to the Betting Ring Manager at the racecourse and then – if it cannot be resolved – to the Tattersalls Committee (www.tattersallscommittee.co.uk) a provider of alternative dispute resolution for on-course bettors. Any complaint that an on-course bookmaker has acted in an unfair matter or in a manner prejudicial to the good name of betting should be directed to the Gambling Commission (www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk) the regulatory authority for betting in Great Britain.
Starting Prices have been returned using the on-course market since the 18th century. With the growth of markets for betting off-course, it became essential that the SPs accurately reflect the on-course market and that they are seen to be independent of the bookmakers who accept off-course bets. Governance therefore is of the greatest importance. The Starting Price Liaison Committee of 1994 was turned into the SP Executive in 1999, before the creation of the current body, the Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC) in 2004.
The SPRC was created as a result of a study commissioned by the SP Executive, a group of representatives from the Mirror Group, SIS and the Press Association. The aim was to provide an opportunity for independent scrutiny of the processes used to return the SP, particularly to deal with questions about the accuracy and integrity of individual starting prices from off-course bookmakers, bettors and other interested parties, a role that the SPRC has fulfilled ever since.
The first set of operating rules for the SP was issued in 1998, and then updated in the following year. Following a review of the SP by Arthur Andersen, an accountancy firm, in 2000, further revisions were made. There were also revisions in 2006. The current set of Operating Rules and Procedures was issued following a review by the Commission in 2011.