In a bid to maximise betting on horse racing, BHA Chief Executive, Nick Rust, is aiming to repair damaged relations with major bookmakers. He is aiming to achieve this by developing a forum for important meeting discussions, which include increasing the exposure of racing on weekends in which there is no Premier League football. Taking football fixtures into account has long been on the wish-list of Rust, with the BHA boss hoping that better communication between themselves and bookmakers will see more focus on racing in general.
A higher number of evening meetings have been scheduled into the 2018 racing calendar, in order to try and reflect the way in which people are now betting on sport. As well as this, the BHA will look to improve ties between themselves and the betting industry. We at Betting Gods are certainly in support of this move, as it will almost certainly create stronger opportunities for betting customers, along with the push for promoting racing during quieter periods of the year, such as weekends when there is no top-flight football.
Rust is not the only individual looking into areas for improvement, with Richard Flint, Chief Executive at Sky Bet, having spoken in depth about the same very subject at the Gimcrack dinner last year, calling for a new partnership between sports organisations and bookmakers.
However, with Rust having recently admitted that a “certain strain” had been put on both the Authorised Betting Partner Policy (ABP) and the process which led to the Levy reform, it could still be some time until progress is made. Despite this, the fact that the BHA CEO also revealed that a number of meetings between the duo had taken place at Royal Ascot, some form of agreement may not be as far away as it seems.
Rust stated “I was always very optimistic that once the levy matters had been resolved that concerns over relationships would quickly be put aside. I think in the last few months we’ve seen that with leaders in racing and betting spending time together, beginning to talk about how the future will look, and beginning to discuss plans.”
The BHA boss went on to add “It’s definitely starting afresh and making sure that with the levy behind us we can start moving forward together.”
Elsewhere, a brand-new racing authority is to be established with the target of spending levy funds, despite the process having been delayed due to the 2017 general election.
Rust continued by saying “British racing has formed its proposals with regard to how its formalised relationship with betting will take place in and around the new Racing Authority. Even if that’s delayed somewhat we’d expect the forum for the formal relationship with betting established by this autumn”
“We’re just finalising the shape of that at the moment but broadly speaking we see senior representatives of racing and appropriate representatives of betting operators working together in a single forum where all matters, not just how they would like to see levy distributed, can be discussed.”
The ABP scheme was announced back at the end of 2015, however beforehand, a racing and betting group was established as part of the sport’s strategy for growth, with Rust hoping that any new relationship can pick up where that left off.
“We had senior leaders from betting in the room and a number of ideas were discussed about how we’d shape the fixture list for the future, and I’d like us to revisit those within this new forum,” said Rust.
“Areas of opportunity were identified such as international football weekends which are pretty fallow ground for betting operators these days. It would be good to make sure we put on the appropriate and best racing product we can for off-course betting on those weekends”
“Thursday evenings are also an opportunity given it’s weak for football, and there’s an opportunity there for us to consider how we put on racing to ensure we’re front of mind for the betting public.”
But what do you think?
Is it all too little too late? or a great idea for racing fans?