In the United Kingdom, online and land-based sportsbetting operator Betfred has reportedly announced that it intends to end almost all of its commercial relationships with the nation’s horseracing industry after its exclusive agreement to run the sport’s pools betting service expires in July.
According to a report from the Racing Post newspaper, the revelation came from the bookmaker’s Chief Executive Officer, Fred Done, and is set to impact more than 600 races via the closure of at least 49 of the firm’s 51 on-course betting shops.
The newspaper reported that the move, which could potentially cost the sport up to $8.1 million in lost annual sponsorship income, follows a decision by 54 British racecourses to end the Tote pool betting service’s 90-year near-monopoly on most British tracks by inaugurating their own such offering in 2018.
The Racing Post explained that only Ascot Racecourse and Betfred-owned Chelmsford City Racecourse are to retain their Tote services after July with Done purportedly stating that British horseracing and his company “have got to learn to live without each other”.
“All our betting shops on the racecourse with the exception of Ascot [Racecourse] and Chelmsford [City Racecourse] are shutting down,” Done reportedly told the newspaper. “We won’t be represented on any [other] courses. Several racecourses are really disappointed we aren’t staying but I won’t stay where I’m not wanted. If anything, the regret I have about not being on racecourses is that our association with racing is broken now and will be finished next year. But that’s not business, it’s sentimental. As from next year, racing and Betfred have got to learn to live without each other.”
The Racing Post detailed that Betfred sponsored almost 1,000 British horse races in 2016, which equated to nearly 10% of the 10,035 contests staged that year, while its betting shops are to continue to pay levy and media rights to the sport post-July.
“As from next year, we will fulfill everything we promise,” Done reportedly told the newspaper. “We will not go back on anything or dodge anything or get out of contracts. I gave racing the opportunity of saying “We don’t want you as a sponsor” and I would have walked away. They didn’t take that opportunity but as of next July we will not be sponsoring anywhere but for the exceptions of Ascot [Racecourse] and Chelmsford [City Racecourse].”