British Jockey Club slammed after deal with Playtech

A deal between the Jockey Club and gaming technology company Playtech involving the development of casino games has been criticized for undermining efforts to differentiate betting on races from gambling.

As part of the five-year partnership, Playtech is set to develop a range of online casino, poker, virtual sports and bingo games based on the Jockey Club’s most famous races and racetracks.

The company said the first game would launch in time for the Cheltenham Festival.

The deal has been criticized for appearing to contradict arguments made by others within British racing to draw a distinction between betting and gambling, and for being struck at a time when the UK government is in the middle of its gambling law review process.

However, the Jockey Club responded by arguing that the agreement is separate from the question of how the game is regulated.

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There are fears that if the review leads to the introduction of draconian accessibility controls, it could hit racing revenues to the tune of £60m or more a year, as well as force punters to share financial data sensitive personal contact with bookmakers if they wish to bet beyond the monthly limits set by the government.

The Horseracing Bettors Forum called for a different approach between betting and gambling in its submission to the government’s call for evidence, pointing to the higher rate of compulsive gambling in casino games compared to sports and horse racing betting.

Reacting to the Jockey Club agreement, the HBF said: “The HBF’s submission to the gambling law review argued that betting and casino games should have different regulatory provisions because there must be a clear distinction between games of skill, a single point sale of betting on horse racing and something the sport should emphasize, and games of chance.

“With the Gaming Law Review White Paper yet to be published, this announcement seems out of time. High street bookmakers have reinvented themselves as online casinos and have knowingly confused horse betting and games of chance.

“It would be good to understand how this new Jockey Club venture is in line with its stated mission to act ‘for the long term good of British racing in everything (they) do. “”

News of the deal also sparked anger and disbelief from racing fans on social media, with users calling it a “disgraceful decision” and “hopelessly myopic”.

In response to the criticism, Jockey Club Commercial Director Charlie Boss said: “We recognize that any deal in iGaming requires careful consideration and we have developed our strategy over the past year.

“This partnership aims to deepen our relationships with betting operators and builds on existing agreements we have had for many years in the gaming space. It is not about the separate issue of how games should be regulated.”

Boss said the intent of the deal, which lasted more than a year, was to reach new audiences and create new revenue streams for the sport.

He also said safer play was a big factor in the deal.

Boss added: “Part of the reason the deal took so long is that we wanted to make sure we did it in all the right ways.

“It’s really important to be clear that Playtech and all of the betting operators it works with are subject to all the regulations that exist in that territory at the time.

“Playtech goes further than that with safer gaming technology and the leadership role they have, which was a big part of our consideration. We have done very serious due diligence in player safety capabilities and what they offer there.”

The Jockey Club deal isn’t the first link Playtech has had with racing, with games named after Sir Anthony McCoy, Frankie Dettori and Ascot Racecourse already among its “Sporting” casino offering. Legends”.

Playtech Casino Director James Frendo said: “By partnering with an iconic sporting institution such as the Jockey Club, we are able to create a full range of exceptional and exciting crossover content.”

Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Racing at Ascot Racecourse

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