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Racing’s Most Glamorous Bookie

Look out for bookmaker Lisa Eskander if you’re attending the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne this year. She is the first woman to have a position on the coveted “rails” and she remains one of the few female faces in bookmaking.

Lisa does not appear to fit in to what is traditionally a man’s world of bookmaking. The feminine and glamorous looking 32 year old stands out in the rough and tough betting scene. After attending school at Methodist Ladies College in Melbourne then graduating from Monash University with a Commerce/Arts degree, Lisa went on to work full time in a law firm. However every Saturday she assisted her father, well-known bookmaker Michael Eskander, at the track and later brother Alan.

Lisa gained her bookmaking licence in 2006 and had a baptism of fire as she was put on the rails.  “It was really sink or swim, it’s so fast paced and manic all the time, which is what I thrive on,” says Lisa.

Needless to say Lisa went swimmingly, and enjoys the element of the unknown that is part of the course when being a bookie.  “You never know what to expect day to day.”

Lisa’s father would assist her on big racing meets, but Lisa had to go it alone at her first Cox Plate after Michael was robbed in his home at gunpoint the night before race day in 2007. It’s easy to forget about the less glamorous side of gambling during the fashionable Spring Racing Carnival.

These days the vast majority of bets are made online and Lisa has her own online booking agency in addition to her on-track presence. It’s been noted that having a female bookie encourages women to have a punt. Many ladies send their partners to place bets, so having Lisa at the track makes the betting ring less intimidating.

“Although decisions are definitely made on odds and not the bookies gender, placing a bet with a woman is definitely more comfortable for women.

“I have clients that started with me in 2006 and it has taught me the value of offering a great service and experience.  I am essentially offering a product that so many other bookies offer and of course you have to offer great odds but, it is the relationships you build that are key to building a business in this world.”

Of course I had to ask Lisa for her tips for Melbourne Cup week and rather than offer names she imparted some simple strategies to work with all year round.

“When betting each way, look for longer odds – one of the biggest mistakes people make is to have an each way bet on something very short which means you may not even get your money back if it runs 2nd or 3rd.”

You will spot Lisa in the crowd of suited bookies, she of course wears race appropriate gear from head to toe and opts for wedges and platforms as she is on her feet ALL day.

Lisa is quite the entrepreneur and is soon to launch another business, 1 Cup, a reusable coffee cup that has a strong focus on design.


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