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Asian RC 1: "Racing-Wagering Relationship" Debate

Wednesday, 14th April 2010

The 2nd day of the 33rd Asian Racing Conference in Sydney included a debate on the "future of the racing/wagering relationship" chaired by Australian Racing Board chief executive Andrew Harding.

  • Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said the NSW racing industry (currently in a court challenge with Betfair & corporate bookmakers over the validity of NSW racefields legislation) wanted to set its price for its product like any other commercial business, noting: "We do not want to be partners in the wagering business of exchanges & corporate bookmakers, we just want to set the price for our industry." V'landys said that the dispute between the parties was about "price". He said other sports were carefully watching the present NSW court challenge & suggested a recent French law where all sports were taxed at 2% of turnover would set a precedent (which French delegates later agreed might become European law). V'landys questioned why the NSW racing industry is being taken to court to set its price for the use of racefields by wagering operators & compared this with giant mineral resource company BHP Billiton which was able to set its iron ore prices for customers to either buy or buy elsewhere. V'landys summed up: "If you do not want to use our product, then move elsewhere."
  • British Horseracing Authority chief executive Nic Coward predicted that within 12 months laws will have changed in the UK to ban off-shore wagering & within 5 years there would be major shifts in all government thinking so that "we will have a model that we can base our businesses on." Coward noted: "We want a proper functioning commercial partnership for the industry with people who want to have a partnership with us. Racing will continue to have great content & government will get this & they will create environments that industry can flourish in".  
  • Former British Horseracing Board chairman Peter Savill emphasised the need for all governments to "legislate to enforce intellectual capital".  
  • Corporate bookmaker Centrebet's managing director Con Kafataris argued "the industry is going to continue to lose revenue as customers have too much choice & we must identify other areas to obtain revenue streams." Kafataris said there should be different prices under racefields legislation for different wagering channels & emphasised that corporate bookmakers "want to contribute to the industry to use the product, but at a fair level of levy".
  • Fellow corporate bookmaker Betstar's managing director Alan Eskander said everyone in the wagering area was pushing for the same outcome: "We all want a vibrant racing industry." Eskander warned racing was "too expensive to bet on" and said the punter of the future "would come to understand that & compare costs of wagering returns with competing sports".
  • Betting exchange Betfair's chairman Edward Wray emphasised the importance of "the instant transfer of information" & commented: "Punters live in a world of real-time information. The experience of watching live racing is much better than watching on TV, but technology is moving at such a pace with the use of i-phones that people will use them. We do more business in the 5 hours of a 20/20 cricket match than we do in a 5-day test match." Wray said Betfair had taken "a share in a social networking site in the US" & revealed the exchange's experience was that "the 1st bet by new customers was on sport, not racing".
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