Kavanagh: FOBT decision in Britain could have an impact on Irish racing
Horse Racing Ireland boss Brian Kavanagh has admitted the cutting of maximum stakes on FOBT machines in Britain could have a direct impact on racing in Ireland and said he will be closely watching how the situation develops.
FOBTs have always been banned in Ireland, but given Irish racing benefits financially from its media rights deal with SIS involving broadcasts to British betting shops, Kavanagh acknowledged it was a case of the fewer British betting shops, the less money available for Irish racing.
“It will be interesting to see how the new situation works out and indeed when it will be introduced," he said. "It's worth pointing out that the retail betting sector has operated successfully in Ireland for many years without FOBTs.
“The new situation in Britain may mean there will be greater focus on other forms of betting and there's an opportunity for racing there.
“As with the UK, media rights income for Irish racetracks is directly linked to the number of betting shops in Britain and Ireland – all options considered at the last tender were on that basis – with various thresholds and guarantees, so that's an area we'll be watching carefully as this revenue is very important to the tracks and has allowed our ongoing redevelopment programmes to happen.”
In response to Thursday’s news, the BHA revealed it may look at extending the levy to bets placed in Britain on global racing, which has been the case in Ireland for many years.
Possibility of a levy
Kavanagh added: “I think this decision to cut the maximum stake on FOBT machines just reinforces the point about the need for a long-term and secure funding solution for the industry in both Britain and Ireland.
"It was interesting to read about the possibility of a levy not just on betting on British racing in the future but on all international racing, as that situation has applied in Ireland for many years.
“Overall, I think it’s fair to say that the funding of racing should not be linked to revenues from machines such as this – and it has not been in Ireland.
“Through our partners in SIS we'll work with the betting industry in the UK to ensure Irish racing remains an attractive option for them and their customers.”
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