Dispute over horseracing coverage continues in South Africa

A row over broadcast rights to horseracing in South Africa doesn’t appear to be heading to a conclusion soon if press statements from all the warring partners are any indication. The Phumelela-part owned Tellytrack has been aggressively defending its commercial licences of late by clamping down on any retail bookmaker showing its racing TV channel for the domestic environment. Tellytrack has been adamant that bookmakers wanting to show its service must buy the more expensive commercial licence, and is pursuing court actions along those very lines.

However a number of the local bookmaker fraternity in the province of Gauteng is arguing that the vastly more expensive commercial service actually goes against the licence conditions of the Gauteng Gambling Board (GGB), which determined that bookmakers must be given access to local horse racing telecast and commentary on a ‘cost recovery basis’. Indeed the bookmakers have lodged a complaint over the matter to the GGB.

Meanwhile, perhaps to circumvent getting bogged down in the ‘cost recovery basis’ for local racing, GBI Racing – the supplier of British and Irish racing to international markets – has pointed out that by showing the domestic version of Tellytrack, local bookmakers are breaching GBI’s copyright.

It said in a statement: “It has come to our attention that certain bookmakers, including Marshalls World of Sport, Keith Ho BetXchange, Sepels Best Bets and certain branches of Hollywoodbets.net, have been displaying live British thoroughbred horse racing in their betting shops without being authorised to do so.

“The display of British racing outside of the UK is licensed exclusively to GBI Racing by Racing UK and Attheraces. GBI Racing in turn has authorised Tellytrack to sub-license betting operators to display British racing in betting shops in South Africa. The display of British racing in betting shops in South Africa without a valid sub-licence to do so constitutes a breach of our rights (including copyright). A breach of copyright has civil as well as criminal consequences.

“Bookmakers who are displaying British racing without a valid sub-license are hereby called upon to immediately cease infringing our rights by displaying British racing. GBI Racing, Racing UK and Attheraces shall take all steps as are available to them in order to protect their rights without further notice.”

Whether bookmakers will be given access to the local racing on a cost recovery basis, separate from any international racing, remains to be seen. But at the moment it appears that a huge hike in subscription costs can be arguably due to cover the investment on international racing.

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