Ladbrokes boss calls on parties to unite to secure racing's future
Ladbrokes chief executive Jim Mullen has warned racing stands to lose out on significant revenue unless it works with the betting industry in the face of growing pressure on gaming machines.
Mullen backed Betfred boss Fred Done, who warned on Tuesday that the threat to reduce stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) was the biggest to face the high street industry in his 50 years with his company and said racing would be a significant loser if shops closed as a result.
"The demise of the high street betting sector would have a profound and far-reaching impact on the racing industry and thus on the fabric of Britain's sporting culture and heritage," Done wrote in an open letter published by the Racing Post, adding that the industry is "under siege because of the moral panic surrounding FOBTs".
That stark warning has been echoed by Mullen, who has called on all parties to unite in the interest of securing a future that benefits both racing and the betting industry, with as much as £25 million in funding at risk from Ladbrokes-Coral alone.
"Fred Done has laid bare the vital relationship between the racing and betting industries and the critical situation that exists as we await the outcome of the government’s triennial review," he said.
"In simple terms, the Ladbrokes-Coral group pays over £100 million to racing, £75 million of which is in media rights spread across our 3,500 shops.
"If the government fails to take an evidence-based approach and instead decides to impose measures which lead to a quarter of our shop estate closing, racing loses £25 million. The maths are depressingly simple and that's what we could face."
Explaining the difference between the current landscape and racing's relationship with betting prior to the widespread introduction of FOBTs, Mullen added: "Those within racing who may choose to hark back to an era before FOBTs are misguided – the rapid escalation of media rights payments from betting to racing has changed the landscape beyond recognition.
"Thousands of jobs would be at risk in our industry if the anti-FOBT campaigners have their way but the racing industry would be severely impacted too. Nobody wants to see that scenario, surely. We need to unite in calling for the government to act responsibly, protect jobs, promote growth and allow both the betting and racing industries to prosper."
BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: “British racing is naturally supportive of a vibrant and socially responsible retail betting industry in Britain, with British racing as a core product within its offering, and obviously takes an active interest in any potential regulatory measures which might impact on the racing industry, both in terms of funding and the opportunities for customers to engage with the sport.”