Bookmaker Betfred gone and Done a runner from UK racing sponsorship

  • Bookmaker will scrap all race sponsorships and close on-course betting windows
  • Decision will affect over 600 races

UK bookmaker Betfred is set to end its ongoing horse racing sponsorships and close most of its its on-course betting windows, following recent comments by the company’s founder Fred Done that their association with racing is broken.

The Racing Post reported on Wednesday that Betfred was set to end nearly all its current commercial links with the sport when the company’s exclusive pool betting arrangement comes to an end in July 2018.

It is reported that Done has pledged to fulfil existing obligations, but would not continue its relationship with racing after that point.

It is expected that the company will close 49 out of 51 on-course betting shops, and the changes will also affect more than 600 races amounting to around £6 million ($8.1 million) in sponsorship income for the sport.

The sole exceptions will be at Ascot, where the company will continue with a pool betting deal agreed in April this year, and at Chelmsford racecourse, which is owned by the company.

Annual bickering

Betfred won the exclusive right to offer Tote betting on UK racing back in 2011, but by last year, relationships between racing and UK bookmakers had deteriorated and many UK racing stakeholders were discussing launching their own Tote alternative, a plan that has since gained the support of 54 of the UK’s racecourses.

Relations were soured further by the annual bickering over the level of UK bookmakers’ contribution to the racing Levy, and the Authorized Betting Partners scheme of 2015, which restricted race sponsorships to companies who signed up to return a larger share of online race betting revenue to the sport, though both issues were overtaken by the UK government’s announcement of a uniform 10% charge on all race betting revenue.

It may also be the case Betfred feels more confident about severing its racing links given the shifting now to online and particularly mobile sports betting and online casinos.

The Betfred online casino, will be among the operations bringing new income streams to the company, while the long-term sustainability of the Tote betting model remains unclear.

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