Israeli government agrees £5m settlement to GBI Racing over betting ban
The Israeli government is to pay nearly £5 million to the company responsible for distributing British and Irish racing to overseas betting operators after a ban on gambling on the sport came into force there this week.
GBI Racing, the joint venture between Racing UK and At The Races, had a contract with the Israel Sports Betting Board which was due to run until August, but its business there has been halted as part of a wider campaign against gambling.
Israel's finance minister Moshe Kahlon has described the revenues generated for the government from gambling as "tainted money".
The Israeli Ministry of Finance, which closed the operation of betting on horseracing from Monday, has secured an approval to pay a settlement of 23m shekels (roughly £4.9m), GBI has revealed.
Betting on racing in Israel was launched only in 2013 but the country quickly became one of GBI's top five territories with revenues believed to be around £4m a year.
A GBI spokesperson said: "The closure is a shame, given the giant strides GBI Racing has made in the four and a half years of trading in Israel. The country had no history of horseracing, no infrastructure to facilitate betting on horseracing, and had no real affiliation with a uniquely British product.
"GBI Racing quickly established Israel as a key market. It’s a partnership that has delivered substantial revenues and funding to UK and Irish racecourses, as well as for sports and government good causes in Israel, but we have accepted the ministry’s decision and the political will to close the operation. We believe it is a fair settlement, given the circumstances.
"It is now up to GBI Racing to fill that hole by increasing revenues in existing and new markets. We are already excited about opportunities in Italy and Africa, for example."
The British Tote is understood to have processed bets of more than £50m a year from Israel.
Betfred chief commercial officer Phil Siers said they were disappointed by Israel's decision but added: "Our other international markets are robust and we expect low to medium impact overall."
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