Jockey Club accused of hurting UK horse racing industry in “poorly timed” Playtech deal

A recently announced deal between The Jockey Club -the largest commercial group in British horseracing- and gambling tech company Playtech has been criticized for “poor timing” and of negatively affecting the horseracing industry by the Horseracing Pettors Forum (HBF)a body created in 2015 to represent the perceived interests of those who bet on British horseracing.

Under the new five-year partnership with The Jockey Club, unveiled earlier this week, Playtech is set to develop a range of cross-product content based on the races and racecourses operated by the commercial group.

Playtech has earned rights to develop content across verticals including Casino, Live Casino, Poker, Virtual Sports and Bingowith the first product from the partnership, an RNG casino game, to be launched in time for this year’s Cheltenham Festival, 15 – 18 March.

The deal promptly led the HBF to voice its concerns, as the Forum believes the development of casino games and of chance could blur the distinction between games of skill, “a unique selling point of betting on horseracing,” according to the body.

The HBF sees this announcement as a contradictory approach to that being taken by other parties with an interest in the British horseracing industrywhich have pushed for the distinction between casino gaming and sports/games of skill to be further emphasized.

This is something the Forum tackled in its submission to a government’s call for evidence, as UK authorities plan to release a Gambling Act review white paperexpected in spring 2022. The review is set to update legislation and regulation in place in the UK since 2005.

The HBF’s submission to the Gambling Act review made the case that betting and casino games should have different regulatory arrangementsas there needs to be a clear distinction between games of skill, a unique selling point of betting on horseracing, and something which the sport should be emphasizing, and games of chance,” the Forum said.

The Horseracing Bettors Forum further said that, with the Gambling Act review white paper still to be published, the announcement “sees poorly timed.” According to the HBF, high street bookmakers “have re-invented themselves as online casino” and “have knowingly conflated horseracing betting and games of chance.”

It would be good to understand how this new venture by the Jockey Club is in line with its stated mission of acting ‘for the long-term good of British racing in everything they do’,” the HBF criticized.

Jockey Club chief commercial officer Charlie Boss said the group was “delighted” to partner with Playtech, which expects the company to “help translate the success of our historic brands” into the iGaming market. He said that Playtech shares the Jockey Club’s values ​​“on putting safer gambling at the heart of their products.”

“By partnering with an iconic sporting institution such as The Jockey Club, we are able to create a full range of exceptional and exciting cross-product content,” said James Frendo, Casino Director at Playtech. “Partnering with globally recognized brands is a key pillar of our branded content strategy as we look to deliver a unique and engaging responsible gambling experience to our customers.”

Meanwhile, on social media, the HBF said that “the continued use of horseracing as a marketing tool for the online casino gaming industry needs to be called out,” and that while the Forum and others “make the case for separate regulatory regimes for betting and casino games,” The Jockey Club signed up Playtech precisely to develop products of chance.

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