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Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Racecourses reveal plan to take 'full control' of on-course pool betting

Neil Goulden: "Important time in the evolution of pool betting"
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In their most serious statement of intent to date, Britain's tracks have said they wanted to ensure racecourses "will have full control of their on-course pool betting operation" from next year.

However, not all of Britain's racecourses are involved in the project.

The announcement is the first public announcement from the "project steering board" which has been examining the options for pool betting within British racing.

As part of that it has appointed betting industry veteran Neil Goulden as chairman designate for a racecourse-run pool operation once Betfred's exclusive licence runs out in July 2018.

The board represents a range of independent racecourses and the two major racecourse groups - Arena Racing Company and Jockey Club Racecourses.

The project is being led by Nigel Roddis, who has been seconded from the BHA, while its board members are Jockey Club group chief executive Simon Bazalgette, Arena Racing Company chief executive Martin Cruddace, Newbury chief executive Julian Thick representing the large independent racecourses and Pat Masterson and Jonathan Garratt, managing directors of Newton Abbot and Cartmel respectively, representing the small independent racecourses.

Bazalgette said: "As has been said before, racing and betting have a symbiotic relationship and nowhere is this more apparent than pool betting which has a presence across British racecourses.

"We are aiming to control and then improve this service to our customers. I am delighted that Neil has agreed to join us and to assist us in the key decisions we must make in the coming weeks and months."

Goulden spent 14 years with Ladbrokes including four as chief executive of the Dutch Tote. He was also chief operating officer, chief executive and chair of Gala Coral between 2001 and 2011 and has been a government-appointed member of the Levy Board since January last year.

He said: "I hope my experience can assist British racing in developing its thinking on pool betting so that it can grow to the benefit of British racing and all its customers."

Goulden added: "We are very open to talking to Fred [Done] about how we might be able to work together for the mutual benefit of racing and Betfred.

"In wider terms we see off course bookmakers, retail and online, as partners and potential customers for our pool product."

Chester and Bangor are however not involved as delivery of their in-house betting service has been taken over by tote operator Premier Gateway International (PGI), a joint venture between Australian gambling giant Tabcorp and South African operator Phumelela, in a five-year deal starting this month.

Chester Race Company chief executive Richard Thomas said: "We are ongoing with that and that will be first in use on March 25 at Bangor and we will be using it when the whole of the Cheltenham Festival is live here in our hospitality.

"That will give us a good opportunity to trial and then we will be live in May at Chester."

Meanwhile Ascot continue to examine their options for pool betting at the course.

Corporate and racing communications manager Ashley Morton-Hunte said: "We are taking a full analysis of all the options that will be available to us from July 2018 after which we'll announce what we would like to do."

Racing and betting have a symbiotic relationship and nowhere is this more apparent than pool betting which has a presence across British racecourses
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