The UK's horse racing administrators are preparing to fight tooth and nail to stop any plan by the government to limit TV
gambling advertisements. The possibility of a pre-watershed ban on the adverts was floated in Friday's edition of The Times and, while the report was speculative and anonymously sourced, it was enough to send a shiver through senior figures, both on the
turf and beyond.
Among those feeling anxious were the executives who negotiated a £30m, four-year deal to televise racing on ITV from 2017. The value of racing's terrestrial rights depends almost entirely on the huge sums that bookmakers will pay to advertise in the
breaks. A ban on daytime advertising would blow a hole in ITV's business plan as wide as Newmarket Heath, and reduce the value of the rights in future deals almost to zero.
In fact the entire Channel 4/ITV racing programme itself could be considered as one long promotion for gambling.
The digital channel At The Races also depends heavily on bookmaker advertising. Other sports, football in particular, could also see a drop in the value of their TV rights, but only racing has a fundamental link to betting as a primary revenue
stream and a daytime ban would be catastrophic for the sport's finances.
According to Friday's report, possible changes to the rules on gambling adverts will be added to a review of fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs), the controversial gaming machines that have turned what were once betting shops into outlets for roulette
and other fixed-margin games which were once restricted to casinos.
Racing will also be concerned that any compromise proposal that imposed an early-evening cut-off point for gambling adverts would bar bookies from advertising during terrestrial racing coverage, but leave much of the televised Premier League and
Champions League football schedule on Sky Sports and BT Sport relatively unaffected.
Offsite Comment: Is banning gambling ads censorship? You bet
26th October 2016. See
article from spiked-online.com By Rob Lyons