The Bookmakers Technology Consortium (BTC) has written to all bookmakers in the UK and Ireland highlighting the problems that satellite channel supplier Sports Information Services (SIS) is causing the sector with the proposals for 2018 onwards. The letter sets out some of the concerns that the independent bookmakers subscribing to the SIS FACTS service have with the actions of SIS.
The channel which SIS are offering the 1,400 independent shops in the UK and Ireland will bundle UK horseracing, Irish horseracing, some UK greyhounds, 49’s virtual racing and international horseracing from various jurisdictions. SIS propose to deliver the service via a two-screen display with a unified audio channel. When this service is fully up and running in 2019 with a full year of Racecourse Media Group (RMG) content it will have a full rate card of charge of £21,499.
Bookmakers feel this is too much content at too great a cost and are asking for the service to be split into a main channel and a second optional channel. This would enable the smaller shops to continue to trade with only UK horseracing and 49’s virtual racing on the main channel. The second channel would show Irish horseracing, greyhounds and international racing. This would split the cost approximately 50/50 between the two channels. The BTC believe that a single channel service for under £11,000 would enable the smaller shops to continue to subscribe to TRP and provide all UK horseracing to their clients.
The independent bookmakers also highlight the refusal of SIS to supply data to shops that do not subscribe to the full pictures and audio service. Data is a separate service to live TV coverage and can be provided via IP, completely independently to the live satellite coverage. The BTC note that SIS will be making a separate charge for data and that they believe any shop paying the data charge should be provided with the data
BTC have estimated the cost of Irish horseracing, which is included in the SIS service, to be £3,800 per annum. They highlight the difficulties which UK bookmakers have in justifying paying for this content. Allowing for the SIS margin, VAT and betting tax a shop needs to win £5,740 per annum from customers just to pay for the Irish content. Figures available to the BTC suggest that independent bookmakers in the UK win around £6,000 per annum from Irish horseracing – they cannot justify paying for the cost of Irish horse racing where the net profit is only a couple of hundred pounds. Clearly if a betting shop did not have Irish horseracing much of the betting would transfer to other products already available in the betting shop, such as UK horse racing.
The letter ends with a list of demands from the independent bookmakers. It states “The needs of the independent betting shop operator are different to those of the major retail operators. We insist that SIS service those needs in a collaborative way and form a mutually beneficial partnership with the independent sector.”
The BTC then requests that SIS:
1. Remove the tie between supply of data and supply of pictures and provide these services independently.
2. Remove the requirement for 100% estate sign up for any service.
3. Ensure that betting shops which, due to legal restrictions, cannot make use of services are not charged for those services.
4. Provide an agreed two tier service that satisfies the requirements of the independent sector.
5. Provide comprehensive terms of business to subscribers, including clear terms for rebates.
6. Enter into a binding commitment to provide the subscribers of the FACTS channel with an ability to authorise all content on that channel and not to renew or extend any current contracts without the authorisation of the subscribers committee.
A full copy of the BTC letter can be found on their website at www.btc.uk.com