BetVictor join Authorized Betting Partner scheme; Ladbrokes exit Cheltenham

betvictor-authorized-betting-partner-racing-ladbrokesOnline betting operator BetVictor has become the fourth online-only bookmaker to sign on with UK racing’s Authorized Betting Partner (ABP) scheme.

On Friday, BetVictor announced that it had inked a three-year deal to ante up a portion of its online revenue derived from UK racing events to UK racing bodies, joining 32Red, Bet365 and Betfair as the only other online bookies that have so far earned the ABP designation.

Terms of the BetVictor deal weren’t disclosed, but the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the major racecourses supporting the ABP scheme have stated that operators would need to pay 7.5% of their online racing revenue.

BetVictor CEO Andreas Meinrad justified the deal by saying his company felt “we would be doing our customers a disservice by not getting behind this initiative.” BHA CEO Nick Rust expressed delight that BetVictor “recognize the benefits” of ABP membership and said the BHA looked forward to seeing BetVictor’s name prominently displayed at UK tracks.

The BHA announced the controversial ABP scheme last October as a way of compelling online bookmakers to remit some of their UK racing revenue back to the sport, much as land-based bookies are required to contribute 10.75% of their retail race betting revenue to the annual Levy scheme.

As of Jan. 1, ABP status is required for bookies to enter into promotional tie-ups with UK tracks. The new rules have met with resistance from many bookies with a UK retail presence, as they believe they are already doing their bit to keep the slumping racing industry afloat.

Among those holdouts is Ladbrokes, which, depending on your perspective, has either given up or was forced abandon its prominent position at the Cheltenham Festival. Ladbrokes’ longtime sponsorship of the World Hurdle has been taken over by Ryanair, while Ladbrokes won’t be opening its traditional two betting outlets at the track during next month’s Festival.

Ladbrokes’ spokesman David Williams said the company had chosen to forego opening its Cheltenham shops because the firm found it “peculiar that our money and expertise were welcome in one part of the racecourse and not in another.” A Cheltenham spokesman said an ABP partner would take over the shops.

Williams said Ladbrokes was “very disappointed” by the development and noted that the betting sponsorship money that racing has enjoyed over the past decade “may not come back quickly.” Williams denied that this was a threat, just that Lads are “not the kind of firm that tend to do short-term deals.”