Independent bookmakers warn courses of impact from SIS deal
Racecourses whose action will be shown in betting shops through SIS from next year have been warned there could be a "significant impact" on their income from hundreds of independent bookmakers not taking the service.
The Bookmakers Technology Consortium (BTC), which represents a number of independent operators, said it was "difficult to see independent bookmakers signing any contracts with SIS until it is clear that SIS can and will work with BTC to support the independent sector".
From April 1 next year all 37 tracks aligned with Racecourse Media Group, which include Jockey Club Racecourses, Ascot, Goodwood, Newbury and York, will begin a new five-year betting-shop media rights deal, switching from TurfTV.
The remaining 23 courses have signed up with The Racing Partnership (TRP), behind which Arena Racing Company is the driving force and which signed a deal with BTC last year.
Both SIS and TRP have been involved in a battle to add content to their channels, especially in the world of greyhound racing.
Earlier this week SIS announced a relaunch of its betting-shop service next year, which product director Paul Witten said would be a "must have" service and that it would be a "bold decision" for any bookmaker not to sign up.
However, BTC directors Michael Corbett, managing director of Corbettsports, and Dominic Ford, owner of Roar Betting, have told the Racing Post that the service SIS is proposing is a "'can’t possibly have' not a 'must have' option for independent betting shop operators".
They said in a joint statement: "Indeed, we understand that a number of independent bookmakers have already cancelled their contracts with SIS from January 1."
Corbett and Ford said SIS's proposed service from next year, which will cost more than £19,000 per shop, was an "untenable commercial proposition".
They claimed independent bookmakers in the UK would "happily" take Chelmsford City, the RMG courses and 49’s virtuals as a single channel and that the cost of that channel would be under £9,000 per annum.
"However, we are told that we must pay over £19,000 per annum as SIS have agreed to bundle greyhounds and Irish horseracing into the service," they added, "content which, at the price, UK bookmakers would rather do without."
They went on: "The directors of Bookmakers Technology Consortium are very concerned that SIS have not fully thought out the way that they service the independent sector."
In the spring RMG chief executive Richard FitzGerald said he expected the group would next year announce income from media rights of £100 million.
However the BTC directors warned: "The majority of independent betting shops in the UK now rely on BTC for data services and it is vital that BTC can continue to provide these services.
"It is difficult to see independent bookmakers signing any contracts with SIS until it is clear that SIS can and will work with BTC to support the independent sector.
"Unless agreements can be reached there is the realistic prospect of more than 500 UK shops not taking the RMG content from April 1. This would have a significant impact on the income of those racecourses."
RMG did not wish to respond to the bookmakers' comments.
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