Sportsbooks to Increase Online Contributions to Struggling UK Horse Racing Industry

  • Online sportsbooks will pay more to the racing industry for streaming and data until December 2
  • An agreement has already been made with the Racecourse Media Group
  • At The Races is also reportedly close to completing a similar deal with online sportsbooks
  • British racing could lose £12.5m in sportsbook payments with the current national lockdown
  • Higher online contributions could make up 50-60% of lost payments from betting store closures
Horse race on a grass track
Online sportsbooks are temporarily increasing their contributions to the UK racing industry while betting stores are closed during the pandemic. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Vital funding

Online sportsbooks are increasing how much they pay the UK racing industry for data and streaming deals up to December 2. The aim of the bump is to help downsize the negative impact that retail betting store closures will have on racing during the national lockdown in England. The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) welcomed these additional fees in a tweet on Tuesday:

Sportsbooks have already made an agreement with the Racecourse Media Group (RMG) about the provision of data and streaming to the sportsbooks, covering events across 35 racetracks in Britain and 26 in Ireland. At The Races represents the rights of the other British racetracks, such as those courses owned by the Arena Racing Company, and an agreement with sportsbooks is reportedly close to completion.

There were similar deals made in June and July when racing got back in action, but the retail betting stores were still closed as a result of the initial national lockdown. 

Costly shutdowns

According to estimates, the latest national lockdown that began on November 5 could cost British racing as much as £12.5m ($16.5m) through lost levy and media rights payments. The new agreements will reportedly make up for about 50-60% of the lost revenue. 

Newbury Racecourse chief executive Julian Thick acknowledged the sportsbooks for making greater contributions but warned that these increases will not cover the racecourses’ losses. 

since the middle of March, there have not been any crowds at races

With a ban on spectators at professional sporting events still in place, racecourses are experiencing significant financial difficulty, as more than half of their income comes from race day crowds. Since the middle of March, there have not been any crowds at races, except for two pilot meetings in Warwick and Doncaster.

BGC welcomes increase

There is no guarantee that the betting stores will reopen once the national lockdown ends. The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is seeking clarity on this issue, calling on the government to “treat betting shops fairly.”

The industry association is making the case for betting stores to reopen when other non-essential retail operations restart. In addition, the BGC is calling for the allowance of socially distanced crowds at races as soon as possible. 

BGC chief Michael Dugher acknowledged the support that sportsbooks are now giving the racing industry. He went on to note that a healthy betting industry is vital for the future of horse racing, something that needs to be considered during the government’s upcoming review of gambling legislation.