BHA set to open up racing sponsorship after U-turn

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will reportedly reduce the scope of its new Authorised Betting Partner (ABP) initiative and open up racing sponsorship to bookmakers that do not feature in the scheme.

In October, the national governing body unveiled a strategy under which bookmakers in the UK that fail to pay an agreed amount in levy contributions in respect of their digital operations, or do not have a commercial funding agreement in place, may not be allowed to sponsor races held at tracks owned by Arena Racing Company (ARC) or the Jockey Club.

Under the scheme, bookmakers that abide by the rules and sign up as an ABP were to have a number of advantages such as promotional benefits.

Earlier this month, Betfair, Bet365 and 32Red signed up as ABPs, with each firm to contribute an agreed percentage of their racing revenues from their exchange and sportsbook.

However, despite this stance, The Guardian newspaper now reports that the BHA is to reduce the extent of the initiative by allowing businesses that are ‘affiliated’ to online betting firms to maintain racing sponsorship, even if they encourage punters to use non-ABP bookmakers.

At the time of the original announcement in October, the BHA published a press release that included a background Q&A that said “this announcement includes affiliate websites who will be deemed non-authorised betting partners if they direct customers to operators who do not pay levy on their digital businesses”.

Although this section of the Q&A has since been deleted from the archived press release on the BHA website, the original document, remains online on the Jockey Club’s website.

Will Lambe, director of corporate affairs at the BHA, yesterday (Tuesday) said that the change comes due to an evolution in ABP policy, with the initiative to now focus on individual operators, rather than affiliates.

“We continue to work on the detail of the authorised betting partner model with, for example, a kite mark being launched imminently,” Lambe said, according to the newspaper.

“We are encouraged by those companies that are already on board and also the expressions of interest from a range of other betting operators.

“The policy will evolve but our current focus is the discussions taking place with betting operators, rather than affiliate websites.”

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