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Independents demand SIS improve terms of betting shop service

Leicester racecourse: hosted meeting between independents and SIS
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More than 50 independent bookmakers have written to SIS asking it to improve the terms of its revamped betting shop service next year or risk losing their business.

A stand-off would have financial ramifications for the 37 tracks allied to Racecourse Media Group (RMG) whose new media rights deal with SIS, in which Betfred, Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill are major shareholders, begins in April.

The Bookmakers Technology Consortium (BTC), which represents independent operators, said this month that while it wanted to take the RMG pictures it was not happy with the price it was being asked to pay due to other content such as Irish horseracing and greyhound racing which was bundled with it.

A number of independents voiced their concerns in person to SIS at a meeting at Leicester racecourse last week which was followed up by a letter from BTC to SIS this week which has been seen by the Racing Post.

The letter, signed by 58 bookmakers representing more than 650 betting shops said: "There is a strong resolve amongst the vast majority of the operators of the 800 independent betting shops in the UK not to renew contracts. There is an ever diminishing number of independent shops and it is in SIS's interests to stop that decline rather than help hasten it.

"A tipping point comes at which we need to balance the obvious benefits of showing RMG content against full service which is not value for money."

The letter goes on to say the bookmakers could "reluctantly" rely on the rival The Racing Partnership channel, terrestrial television, virtuals and bingo and that they intended to write to RMG to say they were "more than happy to pay a reasonable price for their content but we are being forced to accept content alongside it which we do not want".

The bookmakers also expressed concerns over SIS's greyhound content from 2018 and that they would need "an agreed quality assessment" built into new contracts to measure the greyhound service.

The letter asked for SIS's November 1 deadline for early sign-up to be put back to the end of the year to take pressure off any potential talks.

In response, SIS's product director Paul Witten said the company was in contact with individual bookmakers and expected further talks with BTC. "We are in dialogue, we are happy to continue that dialogue and we hope to get this resolved to everybody's satisfaction quickly," he added.

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There is a strong resolve amongst the vast majority of the operators of the 800 independent betting shops in the UK not to renew contracts
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