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Betting on UK Horse Racing from France

About 6 months before I started Focus Ratings I also started a small blog which detailed my learning curve with all things Horse Racing.

Once Focus Ratings was under way though, I found that I didn't have time to do both and so I stopped updating the blog.

I am now shutting down the blog and have decided to move some of the content over here - purely for your amusement only.

Living in France it can be difficult to place bets on UK & Irish Horseracing.

If you're not too proud to read the Guardian, there's an article about it here...

Of course, there's plenty of French horse racing to look at and I'll be writing a bit about that shortly.

But, for those of us addicted (or just interested in) to horse racing in the land of brown beer and baked beans (a French friend who is probably mentally scarred for life having once been on a school exchange trip to Doncaster (in Winter!!!) once described England to me as that!), what can we do?

Well there are some ways round the problem and some simple things that we can do to make our lives easier for ourselves.

The Problem...

The problem is that the French insist on all gambling on horse racing being carried out through their version of the Tote, the PMU or a few online bookmakers.

This means that UK bookmakers and exchanges won't allow you to open accounts (or, indeed, even use your accounts) if they suspect that you are accessing the site from France.

How do they know you are not in England?

1). IP Address... When you access a webserver (any server) you leave behind some information in the server's logs.

Much of the information has to do with your type of operating system, the browser that you are using and the size of your screen. However, you also leave your IP address and this can indicate where you are accessing the server from.

You see each country has its own IP address prefixes.

In France my IP address starts with the prefix 2.11 - this immediately identifies me as a PC/Laptop based in France.

2). Bank Details...

You know, BetFair might just twig if you try to set up an account with them and give your banking details as Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne?

In order to open an account with BetFair you WILL need a UK based bank account and, believe me, they can be a bugger to open if you live abroad (unless you can deposit £25,000 or guarantee at least £1,000 per month in regular deposits.)

3). Home Address...

You also need proof that you live in the UK. In other words, a UK address. Ideally your UK bank account statements would go to this UK address. BetFair randomly check on new accounts (and blocks them until they pass the tests) and send test mail to the registered address to be returned within a certain number of days.

The BetFair verification process can be seen here....


The solution...

1). Use a VPN... A VPN (short for Virtual Private Network) is a virtual computer (usually, for our purposes, located in a different country) that you connect to and pass through. Then your internet access looks, to the web server, as though it was coming from that virtual computer.

As an example...

You want to bet on BetFair from France; you find that when you connect to BetFair they identify (from your IP address) that you're in France and say... "Ooh, La, La! Non, non, non!" or something similar.

You pop back to the UK and stay with your Aunt Edna. In her spare bedroom she has an old PC and, using that, you manage to connect to BetFair (after all, you're in the UK.)

The next morning, over cornflakes and a cup of tea you ask your Aunt Edna if she would mind you using her old PC, but from a distance?

She says.. "Of course not, do what you like." and, when you get back to France (no doubt, with a car boot load of Marmite and Baked Beans?) you get your friendly IT chappy to set up some remote access software on your PC so that you can connect to and control your Aunt Edna's old PC so that you can connect to BetFair without them knowing that you are in France.

And that works fine until your Sister goes to stay with your Aunt Edna, uses the computer and then switches it off when she's finished (not knowing that you are using it remotely.)

So, you look for alternatives.

Now, you could move your Aunt Edna's spare PC to a datacenter where there is no risk of anyone turning it off but...

That would cost you an arm and a leg!

The alternative is to rent a VPN.

The VPN is, effectively, a spare PC that your internet traffic passes through but, instead of it being an actual PC it is a virtual one (a decent server can host 1000s of virtual PCs at the same time) and, thus, doesn't cost very much at all.

The explanation I just given is a very basic one (and not even very accurate) and if you want to know more you might want to consult or this excellent article (once again, at The Guardian)..

There are lots of different VPNS out there and I am certainly not going to review them all for you. All I will say is that the one I use is - it costs £5.00 per month, has never let me down and has an incredibly helpful support staff (I have a rather strange computer setup - you'll probably not have problems and thus, won't need the wonderful support staff!)

There are plenty of VPN review sites out there (a bit like Which? magazine, for any of you old enough to remember Which? magazine - but for VPN services) but unless you really know what you are talking about, most of those review sites will be talking Double Dutch. The only thing I can say is that I use personally - and what better recommendation is there than that?

2). Open a UK Bank Account... I already have a UK bank account but....

I moved a couple of years ago (from one part of Brittany to another) and, when I finally got round to informing my bank of my new address, they said "Ummm... actually, your signature doesn't match the one we have on record for you so we can't change your address unless....

You can come back to the UK for 5 minutes to prove, in person, that you are who you are."

I couldn't spare the 5 minutes to pop back to the UK so I have had to go through a lengthy process (still not completed) to allow me access to my account.

If you need to open a UK bank account from abroad you might find it rather costly - this link show the HSBC approach (I'm not singling them out, the other banks are similar in cost)... - it seems to cost £100 and then you still have to find that 5 minutes to visit the bank (in the UK) to sign something to prove that you are who you are?

3). UK Address... You'll still need a UK address for your bank to send your statements. If you haven't got an Aunt Edna to help out, people like may be able to help although they do cost £170 for the first year?

Really, you're only going to need a UK address for a few months until you are sure that your BetFair account has been set up and that you can withdraw funds from it.

keith-eckstein  the horse racing scholar

One Response to “Betting on UK Horse Racing from France”

  1. jims says:

    Hi. I’m no expert on this but you might be better with a Dedicated Private Proxy opposed to VPN? VPNs are shared by many users so it’s apparent it’s a shared network. Private proxies are used exclusively by only one client at a time on the other hand. For the UK address, there’s an (anonymous) mail forwarding service that was about £10 a month last time I looked,

    Anyway, all the best!

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