SIS buys greyhound tracks but no plans for horseracing ownership

SIS buys greyhound tracks but no plans for horseracing ownership

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 Posted by Andy McCarron
Firm has bought Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia from William Hill

Betting industry supplier SIS says it has no plans to move into horse track ownership after securing a deal to buy Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia from William Hill.

SIS says that the deal underpins its  commitment to provide a strong programme of competitive greyhound racing for the foreseeable future and reinforces its position as a key supplier of content to the UK betting market.

Picture and data from the greyhound tracks will be added to SIS’ existing portfolio of rights from Monmore, Crayford, Hove, and Romford, ensuring they will able to continue to provide high quality greyhound racing to betting markets from tracks either owned or under direct contract to SIS.

However commercial director Paul Witten said that racecourses were not on the agenda for now. “Our priority is to provide customers with valuable content,” he told TotallyGaming.com. “There are obviously different ways of doing that but there are no plans to buy racecourses at the moment. We will continue to explore ways by which we can secure data and pictures from events that provide customers with top quality content that offers more betting opportunities efficiently and cost-effectively.”

Witten also said that it was slightly different approach for greyhound racing. “We have no immediate plans to acquire any other greyhound tracks, but wouldn’t rule out similar acquisitions in the future if the opportunity was right for all parties, especially our customers. Our strategy is to ensure we’re able to continue to provide high quality greyhound racing to betting markets from tracks either owned or under direct contract to SIS.

“We have more to do to secure more top-quality greyhound racing for betting shops and are very happy to continue discussions with rights holders which have content available.”

Witten added that the deal underlines the fact that greyhound racing remains an essential part of the mix for retail bookmakers in the UK and Ireland. “It is also of growing importance to our expanding portfolio of digital and international customers, who share our belief that greyhound racing is an excellent betting product which is enjoyed by a wide variety of punters.”

Commenting on the deal, SIS CEO Gary Smith said: “The acquisition of Newcastle and Sunderland is very exciting for us and our customers and strengthens our position as a distributor of high quality pictures and data for greyhound racing. Under William Hill’s ownership the facilities have been well maintained and the tracks have staged high quality competitive greyhound racing which has been popular with punters, both on and off track.  SIS is committed to maintain and build upon the high standards that William Hill has set.”

William Hill Retail managing director Nicola Frampton added: “Newcastle and Sunderland greyhound stadia are among the best run in the industry and we would like to thank the teams at both tracks for all their hard work and success during William Hill’s period of ownership.

“In looking at options for the tracks the continuation of greyhound racing at the stadia and the safeguarding of employment were paramount. We are therefore pleased to have reached agreement with SIS who are the right owner to take the business forward over the long term.”

No significant changes will be made to the venues, which will be acquired by SIS subject to final agreement and the appropriate regulatory authority approvals. They will be run as a separate subsidiary of SIS, as they were under William Hill.

Totally Gaming says: SIS’ move into track ownership is perhaps understandable given the huge wrangling the industry has seen around media rights over the past five years or so. Owning the tracks brings media rights in-house, thus saving many hours of negotiation. Whether this model would extend across to horseracing, where media rights are much more expensive and the sport a lot more political, remains open to debate.

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