Boost to new pool betting operation after 54 courses commit
The group behind plans for a pool betting operation run by Britain's racecourses has reached a significant milestone with the news the project now has the commitments in place from 54 tracks to be up and running next summer.
Betfred's seven-year exclusive licence to run pool betting in Britain runs out next year and the majority of tracks have come together to set up their own operation.
The 54 courses that have signed letters of intent to launch the new service include the 15 courses under the Jockey Club Racecourses banner and Arena Racing Company's 16 tracks.
Of the large independent tracks Goodwood, Newbury and York are on board as are all five Scottish courses - Ayr, Hamilton Park, Kelso, Perth and Musselburgh - and a number of smaller independent courses.
Neil Goulden, who is chairman of the partnership's project steering board said: "For the first time we have got an official green light to form the partnership and move forward."
The project steering board is also hopeful of signing up a further two courses to the partnership.
However, four tracks will definitely not be involved. Ascot has decided to set up AscotBet, supported by the existing Betfred-owned Totepool system, Chester and Bangor are continuing with their own in-house operation, while Chelmsford City is owned by Betfred founder Fred Done.
Goulden said: "The evolution of pool betting in Great Britain provides an important opportunity for British racing and it is enormously positive for the sport that the vast majority of racecourses are involved in this initiative.
"The focus is now on developing the infrastructure and brand for the service and we look forward to providing further updates throughout 2017 ahead of its launch in 2018."
The courses involved are expected to sign the partnership agreement within the next few weeks after which they will contribute their share of the set-up costs.
More details of the project will follow, including who the technology partner is.
Goulden added: "We are a long way down the line of appointing senior managers, coming up with a brand name and a technology partner. Those things are all in hand."
He added: "The key thing we are trying to get across is that this is a long-term strategy about racecourses taking control of their pool betting product and then doing things very differently to how the Tote's been run in the past.
"Innovative technology and new products are going to be very different and therefore we hope we will generate a new earnings stream for racecourses both domestically and internationally. It is all about a long-term, secure, growing earnings stream for racecourses."