36th Asian Racing Conference opens with focus on wagering


The business sessions of the 36th Asian Racing Conference began in Mumbai on Tuesday as Asian Racing Federation Chairman and Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges positioned the next three days of sessions in light of the lifeblood of the industry – wagering.

“The global economy is facing very strong headwinds and the general prevailing conditions will make it very challenging for the wagering business in the future,” said Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges.

“Illegal gambling has always existed but what we are facing now is a fundamentally new threat, with the market size growing beyond US$500 billion annually. The astronomic scale and multi-jurisdictional character of illegal gambling is now such that it is one of the greatest challenges facing racing and other sports,” Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges continued, alluding to Thursday’s business session which tackle the topic in greater detail. “The notion that wagering on racing is a fully mature product is a trap which must be avoided. Innovation and internationalization are key opportunities for growth.”

Bernard Saundry, Chief Executive Officer of Racing Victoria, reviewed the changing face of the content distribution marketplace, especially as it relates to the experience of Australia’s free-to-air and digital media rights. “We must always remember that racing is a global and wagering entertainment business which demands intensive platforms to engage existing and future customers. Our decisions last year on shaping a new distribution model were based on core principles – we wanted racing for all, more people, more often, engaged and enjoying racing, nationally and internationally,” said Mr. Saundry, citing the recent launch of Racing.com, a digital platform operating in joint ownership between Racing Victoria and the Victorian racing clubs.

Tom Ascher, Chief Executive Officer of Longitude, highlighted his firm’s growing business innovations connected with wagering. “The historic norm of one bet type per pool has held us all hostage to the limits of split liquidity. The ability to extract new bets from existing liquidity and the ability to deliver greater liquidity by combining existing bet types into merged pools has broken the liquidity barrier,” said Mr. Ascher. The technology has been adopted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, merging its first four and quartet pools, along with a “new way” to bet to win, called Composite Win, which is an enhancement to an existing pool using Longitude technology to provide customers with more diverse offerings.

“The global industry is positioned to exploit technologically enabled exotic wagering. To fully develop liquidity, it is imperative that we adopt advanced tote communications protocol,” added Mr. Ascher.

Patrick Jay, a global sports consultant, concluded the session with a review of the changing nature of funding for racing in the United Kingdom.

“Currently the existing bookmakers levy is 10.75% paid on the retail gross win for UK horse racing bets only, which is subsequently distributed to racecourses, predominantly for prize money. It does not capture any of the online business at all. The funding source of the industry is at serious risk”, said Mr. Jay, adding that if the current situation remained unchanged, British racing is facing “potentially an 80 percent reduction in prize money by 2020.”

The 36th Asian Racing Conference runs through Thursday with business and specialist sessions covering topics related to the global racing and wagering industry.