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RMG accused of ‘fracturing’ British racing through SIS deal

Racecourse Media Group, the holding company responsible for a range of media and data rights involving a host of horse-racing destinations, has opted to enhance its partnership with Sports Information Services, a provider of end-to-end products and services to the betting and broadcast industries, in a move that has drawn strong criticism from Arena Racing Company, the largest racecourse operator in the UK.

RMG and SIS have extended their existing licensed betting offices partnership to encompass international pool betting and fixed odds rights, including retail and online.

RMG manages the rights of many of the leading British racecourses, while SIS holds the horseracing rights to all Irish racecourses, plus Chelmsford City Racecourse in the UK.

SIS and RMG are about to embark on a five-year deal on April 1 for the distribution of audio-visual pictures and data to LBOs across Great Britain and Ireland and the two organisations have agreed to extend the partnership to market their rights in a wider international agreement from January 1, 2019.

The new agreement means that RMG will control the pool betting service globally for horseracing content from RMG, Ireland and Chelmsford City. SIS will control the fixed odds betting service for RMG and SIS content, which includes Irish racecourses, Chelmsford City, international, greyhound and virtual racing.

RMG chief executive, Richard FitzGerald, said: “It is a strategic, long-term approach to RMG’s media rights, which will result in cost savings, revenue enhancements and the opportunity to grow and promote our quality racing. And, of course, all RMG’s profits are paid to its racecourse shareholders.”

ARC and RMG are currently engaged in a joint venture for distributing British and Irish racing to overseas betting operators. ARC has hit out at RMG’s decision to partner up with SIS and walk away from GBI, the international rights arm of British Racing, from 2019.

ARC chairman David Thorpe said: “We are a little surprised that, without any warning, RMG has informed us that they have chosen the bookmaker-owned SIS as their new international partner so fracturing British horseracing in the process and damaging the huge progress we have made together in penetrating international markets. This will have ramifications as to how British racecourses work together in the future. We are sure our international horserace partners will be disappointed.”

Thorpe indicated that ARC will seek to compete in the international arena, adding: “We have spent considerable resources in building a compelling round the clock suite of international rights including UK horseracing, established BAGS UK greyhounds, Australian horseracing and greyhounds, together with South African horseracing.

“We expect to announce further international content deals shortly. We therefore very much look forward to having discussions with GBI’s international and fixed odds customers to provide an array of compelling and competitive content.”