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Racing looking to promote betting as sport aims to work with betting industry

Nick Rust: we have to have people talking about racing
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British racing is hoping additional funding can be agreed to promote betting on the sport, BHA chief executive Nick Rust told an industry gathering in London on Thursday, as it aims to work with the betting industry.

Rust said the sport was looking at ways to take advantage of down times in the football calendar as well as using data such as sectional timing to grow betting on the sport.

He was speaking at an event discussing the future of UK high street bookmakers in the light of the government's decision to cut FOBT stakes to £2 from £100.

The betting industry has forecast that thousands of betting shops will close as a result, leading to estimates of a cut in racing's income of £40-£60m.

Rust warned that funding for promotion, which would go through Great British Racing, would need to be agreed by the Levy Board.

However, he added: "Racing's representatives will make proposals this year for the use of additional funds some of which will include the promotion of British racing.

"There has been a lot of great work done with the media rights companies in terms of how they have branched out and used our product both here and abroad and there has been some really good work about getting people to go racing.

"I am not so sure we have done so much with funding to promote the sport in its widest sense and to promote betting alongside the sport. You will see an announcement about that later."

The Levy Board is due to be abolished in April and replaced by the Racing Authority, which will have its own Betting Liaison Group. And Rust said he wanted the sport to help the betting industry and especially betting shops by making it more competitive as a betting product.

"British horseracing is absolutely committed to ensuring that its partners in betting – particularly in retail betting given what you have to face right now – get as much support as possible from us," he said.

Rust noted the recent UEFA Nations League international break as a period when racing might take advantage of lower interest in football.

"We have to think about what we are offering on particular days," he said. "It is no good to simply say 'We are racing we are running it for racing'. We have to think about the fact 45 per cent of the sport's income comes directly or indirectly from betting."

He added: "We have to say no, we are going to make sure that some of our showcase racing, attractive racing, is taking place at other times.

"We are not too proud to say that we need to serve our customers and make sure that our products fit in. There is a lot of work going on on that and I expect the Betting Liaison Group to make great strides over the next six months and into the fixture list."

Rust also noted the rise of 'package bets' and the increased importance of self-service betting terminals in betting shops.

"We are looking at sectional timing and other ways to help 'gamify' betting on racing," he said, "to make sure that we can build other bets and allow betting operators to innovate using that data and create their own package bets, fun bets that engage the audience a little more than the traditional audience.

"We have to be on SSBTs in an engaging way, we have to have those package bets in an engaging way. We have to have people talking about racing if it's to help you to grow your business."

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British horseracing is absolutely committed to ensuring that its partners in betting get as much support as possible from us
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