William Hill executives might be busy setting up new offices in
Antigua for their online bookmaking operations, but a few lingering
problems keep calling them back to Britain. The British Horseracing
Board (BHB) says that it has begun legal proceedings in March against
William Hill for obtaining pre-race data from the BHB's database for use
on the bookmaker's Internet betting site.
"BHB spends over £4 million annually in compiling and maintaining the
database which ensures that the information on race fixtures, race
participants and races generally is accurate and reliable. Licenses for
the use of this pre-race data (such as the name of the horse and its
number running races) are granted as a way of recovering this cost for
the benefit of racing," said BHB Chief Executive Tristram Ricketts.
The BHB wants a declaration of law under the 1998 Database Act to
clarify that all information on its racing database is subject to copyright
laws. More than a dozen Internet betting sites have been asked by the
BHB to pay for using the pre-race data. Most have refused, although
Victor Chandler and Sportingbet.com have agreed to pay. The BHB says
that William Hill was targeted because it has an Internet presence in
both the U.K. and internationally. The Board is hoping that both U.K.
and international Internet sites will be required to pay for using
information from the database.
"Typically, the BHB charges Internet sites one percent of their
turnover for use of the pre-race data," said Simon Powell, BHB's Finance
Payment for BHB's database information is no different than paying
for football data, according to Ricketts. "How is it that bookmakers,
who derive 70 percent of their turnover from British Horseracing, refuse
to recognize BHB's rights in this data and yet are prepared to pay
significant sums in copyright fees to the Football League for use of
their Fixture List?" Ricketts said.
BHB officials expect the case to be heard sometime this year.
William Hill representatives were unavailable for comment.