Arena Scores Big with Race Broadcasting Rights

11 May 2001
A new era is dawning with the sale of media rights to all horse racing events in the United Kingdom. The Go Racing consortium, comprised of Arena Leisure plc, British Sky Broadcasting and Channel 4, has signed a 10-year deal with 49 of Britain's 59 racecourses that creates global multi-platform development of the sport.

"Go Racing, having signed the media rights agreement with racecourses which represent over 70 percent of U.K. off-course betting revenues, is ideally placed to capitalize on the immense potential of British horse racing and to capture a share of the related estimated US$9 billion (£6.3 billion) British horseracing gaming market and the $100 billion (£69 billion) and expanding global horseracing gaming market," Arena Chairman Martin Pope said. "This is an exciting time for Arena."

Each of the three consortium members holds a 33.33 percent share in the Go Racing consortium. As part of the deal, Arena will receive 3 percent of gross pari-mutuel betting revenues for all media platforms operated or licensed by Go Racing. The company already has a partnership with Scientific Games--the TrackplayTM Internet wagering joint venture.

"Our subsidiary, Autotote Systems, has been working very closely with Arena to develop TrackplayTM and we are very pleased at this turn of events," commented Scientific Games CEO/Chairman Lorne Weil. "With the achievement of these milestones, the deployment of TrackplayTM can move forward in Great Britain--hopefully before the end of the year."

Arena must also raise £85 million to cover its obligations. The company plans to raise capital through a share issuance. News of the deal has raised Arena's stock price. Trading closed at 95 pence April 27 and resumed Tuesday, at which time shares jumped up to 105 pence. At closing today, shares were trading at 109.50 pence.

Ten tracks--Towcester, Leicester, Perth, Taunton, Fakenham, Stratford, Devon & Exeter, Hexham, Kelso and Sedgefield--chose to go with rival bidder GG-Media.