Betting Odds & Ends - July

28 June 2007

Tabcorp, SKY, Foxtel Discuss Australian Pay-TV Wagering Service

Tabcorp is negotiating with SKY Racing and Foxtel to create Australia’s first pay-TV wagering service under the operation of Two-Way TV. Tabcorp is currently resolving regulatory appeals and software issues, but statements from the company indicate that the service could be operative as early as next year. Two-Way will be paying Foxtel $5.6 million to run the operation, the profits of which will be split between the two by Tabcorp for a service fee.

Bookies May Contribute to UK Sports

U.K. Minister for Sport Richard Caborn in early June mediated a meeting between Coral, William Hill, Ladbrokes and the heads of a number of British Sports Leagues, where the possibility of a contribution to sport by the bookmakers was discussed. Although no figures were disclosed, league officials hope that the bookies will provide several million pounds in order to help non-horseracing events “protect against gambling-related corruption."

Betbrokers to acquire Winning Edge

Betbrokers, the independent betting brokerage group, has signed a letter of intent to acquire Las Vegas-based Winning Edge International, a sports information and tipping service, for $6.5 million. Betbrokers said it expects to fund the acquisition by issuing new shares to current Winning Edge shareholders. It added that the acquisition, which is expected to be completed in June, will allow it to provide detailed information on U.S. sports and offer longer trading hours.

William Hill Seeks New CEO, Harding to Step Down

William Hill is on the hunt for a new chief executive after David Harding said on Monday that he is stepping down. In a prepared statement, Harding said he felt the time was right to move on and "find a new challenge" after helming the company for seven years. Harding will stay in his position for the remainder of the year to allow the company to find a suitable replacement. "I've taken the decision for career and family reasons," Harding said. "I'm 51 and I either move on now, or I finish my working life as a bookmaker. This is the best time as any to move on. The business is in great shape, with good quality management, and it will continue to go forward."

HKJC Mulls Global ExpansionThe Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has made preparations to begin a global operation with the aid of its new director, former New York Racing Association executive William Nader. The HKJC, which controls racing and all other forms of gambling in the territory, hopes that an expansion will rejuvenate interest both abroad and within Hong Kong itself, which has seen a drop in racing turnover and attendance since the territory was returned to China in 1997. Following a decade where the HKJC’s focus was on charity, taxes and preventing illegal betting, the club hopes that the quality of its racehorses, along with a co-mingling wagering deal with Macau, will lead to deals with other racing jurisdictions throughout the world. Although current legislation in Hong Kong prevents the HKJC from mingling its bets with overseas pools, Club President Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges hopes that this problem will soon be remedied.

NBA Contests Bet Confiscation Scheme

Bookies from York and North Yorkshire who were angered by a recent announcement that their horse bets may be confiscated have threatened, by way of the Northern Bookmakers Association, to contest the plans in both the Houses of Parliament and high British courts. The threat comes as a result of a section of the Gambling Act, which abolished the Horserace Betting Levy Board and opened the door for racecourses to charge bookies for bets that are now paid by contract between betting houses. Although the law would not take effect until 2012, many bookies have already contacted their members of parliament in order to seek a reform of this policy. Despite the five-year delay on implementation of the plan, the industry has felt effects, as guideline prices have already dropped 50 percent. There has been no indication as of yet if the policy will be clarified or amended in any way to protect bookmakers.