Can racing really ban betting sponsors?

Can racing really ban betting sponsors?

Monday, October 26, 2015 Totally Gaming

British racing is getting tough on bookmakers who do not play their part in funding the sport.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the Racecourse Association (RCA) and the Horsemen’s Group have announced plans to form an ‘authorised betting partner’ status for operators that pay the Horserace Betting Levy or who have a commercial funding deal in place which sees them pay an agreed equivalent sum.

While the full list of benefits for the ABPs has yet to be announced, racecourse operators Arena Racing (ARC) and Jockey Club Racecourses – which run nearly 60 per cent of racing fixtures - have said they will not enter into any new commercial arrangements, including race sponsorship, with betting operators that do not make a contribution.

The move is the latest in the long-running dispute about the relationship between remote bookmakers and the racing industry, with operators that are based offshore not required to pay the Levy.

Nick Rust, chief executive of the BHA, said: “We are underfunded and loopholes in the Horserace Betting Levy system, allowing the majority of betting operators to make no contribution from profits made on British Racing through their digital businesses, continue to play a large part in that.

“We welcome the leading stance being taken by ARC and Jockey Club Racecourses. The concept of British Racing working in a sustainable manner with betting operators is an important one.

“Every stakeholder in the sport must understand and take on their responsibly for the creation of the right structure to support the funding of our sport.”

Levy-payers 32Red, Bet365 and Betfair, and Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill – which make a voluntary contribution – are the only operators that meet the required criteria according to the BHA.

Martin Cruddace, chief executive of Arena, said: “It is simply not an option to allow the status quo to continue. We understand that our own long-term growth and success can only be guaranteed if the whole of British Racing grows and succeeds.

“This is a substantial undertaking involving significant short term consequences but it is a necessary one if we are to ensure the sport has a sound basis on which to move forward in the years ahead.”

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