Horse racing to become ‘more important to bookmakers’ amid FOBT stake uncertainty

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With the UK betting industry waiting on tenterhooks for an announcement from the government over stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the British Horse Authority (BHA) believes that horse racing is to become more important to gaming operators.

The statement was made at the Asian Racing Conference in Seoul by Brant Dunshea, BHA’s newly appointed chief regulatory officer. Dunshea was delivering a presentation prepared by chief executive Nick Rust, who had to remain in London.

Dunshea said: “With the current focus on the retail betting sector will come tough challenges for the racing industry, but with the impending increase in regulations on gaming machines, horse racing will become more important to gaming operators as the revenues from machines are impacted by the restrictions.

“Revenue from the retail sector is likely to decline in the medium term, as the profitability of betting shops is challenged, which comes with a switch to digital. However, the impacts will be transitional, and it is not expected they will come into effect until late-2019.”

Dunshea said forecasts showed a fall in media rights’ income could be around £40-60 million annually, and while acknowledging there will be “a need for change to the future commercial model”, he added that due to the industry’s relationship with the government “it’s not all doom and gloom”.

He said: The UK government has made commitments to support racing. That clearly needs to be delivered to support the grass roots of the industry, which provides such an incredibly large economic impact for the nation.

“The racing industry is supportive of the reforms to protect responsible gambling, and in collaboration with the betting industry it will work with government to ensure the sustainability and health of the industry.

“So, while there will be challenges, what comes from that will come innovation, collaboration between racing, the betting industry and government, and with that we anticipate will come incredible opportunities.”

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