Thursday, December 3, 2015 : BETFAIR APPOINTED B.H.A. BETTING PARTNER
Horse racing ruling body announces three-year deal with online betting company.
The British Horseracing Authority has announced a three-year deal with online betting group Betfair that makes the firm the first official Authorised Betting Partner of racing
Betfair, along with 32Red and Bet365, was accepted as betting partners by the Authority in October, because the three online firms were already contributing to racing from the profits made by their businesses.
The deal with Betfair will formalise a financial arrangement for three years from April, under which the company will pay the sport an agreed percentage of the profit it makes from betting on British racing.
BHA's Authorised Betting Partner program offers incentives for supporting betting companies, along with punitive measures for those who do not in a carrot -and-stick approach. The main "stick" used is the blocking of sponsorship attempts with BHA courses by "uncooperative" betting firms. Most racecourses have supported the scheme, with notable exceptions like Ascot and Newbury.
The BHA statement announcing Betfair's appointment notes that the betting firm may now use a kitemark and promotional benefits as part of a marketing campaign to be rolled out across the sport. They will also have the opportunity to negotiate preferential commercial arrangements with participating racecourses, including access to sponsorship opportunities, Wi-Fi provision and wider promotion.
The Authority claims that negotiations with other unnamed betting companies are at an advanced stage.
Nick Rust, the BHA’s chief executive and a former online gambling executive, said: “It is vital for the [horse racing] sport and the tens of thousands of people deriving their livelihoods from it that we move our funding from our biggest customer group on to a more sustainable footing, including taking the necessary steps prior to the introduction of the Horserace Betting Right to incentivise digital businesses to make a contribution back to British racing.”
All has not been plain sailing with the program, which has attracted the ire of several UK bookmaking companies, who have threatened to invest their money in other sports.
Pre-eminent among these has been the Coral group, which opposes the BHA scheme and revealed that it is to go to Ireland in order to back an entire card at Leopardstown, south of Dublin, on 17 January, when the two headline races will each carry prize money of Euro 100,000.
“This will be the first time Coral has sponsored a horse racing event in Ireland,” the firm said in a statement, “and celebrates the fact that Coral has recently obtained an Irish betting licence and is authorised by the Irish Government to take bets from people in Ireland.
"This gives us the perfect platform to promote the Coral name, our passion for horse racing and the benefits of our online and mobile betting service to Irish racing fans and punters.”
A Coral spokesman said the Irish deal was of three years duration, and pointed out that Coral has backed the Welsh National since 1973 and the Eclipse Stakes since 1976 under agreements that cannot be extended unless the firm signs up to the BHA's Authorised Betting Partner program in the UK.
Tension between some bookies and the BHA has continued over the levy system which supports BHA, with some firms unable to agree to next year's levy proposals. This led to the UK government deciding this week to roll over the current scheme and levy for another year whilst the dispute is resolved.