Ladbrokes strikes deal with Turf TV

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The Independent Online

Ladbrokes has struck a deal with Turf TV, abandoning its resistance to the new betting shop broadcasting service to ensure access to pictures from some of the best-known racecourses.

The new channel, operated by Amalgamated Racing a joint venture between Alphameric, a technology company focused on the bookmaking market, and a consortium of 31 racecourses became the exclusive broadcaster of fixtures from courses in the consortium this month. Turf TV's coverage now includes Cheltenham, Ascot, Newmarket, Aintree, Epsom and Sandown, and extends over more than half of the UK's racecourses.

The deal, which will bring Turf TV to the 2,340 Ladbrokes betting shops across the country, is Amalgamated Racing's latest triumph after months of resistance from leading bookmakers.

Until Turf TV's arrival early last year, the market was dominated by Satellite Information Services (SIS), hitherto the sole provider of betting shop broadcasts. SIS, which was founded in 1987, has the backing of the bookmakers, including Ladbrokes, which owns 20 per cent of the company, and the Tote, which owns 6 per cent.

Thanks to its alliance with the racecourses, Turf TV has made significant inroads in the market. Gala Coral, an operator of more than 1,500 licensed betting shops, signed up on Christmas Eve, while William Hill, which is in talks with Turf TV, is believed to be close to announcing its own pact with the company. Tote, which owns more than 600 betting offices in the UK, Paddy Power, Ireland's biggest bookmaker, and Boylesport, another Irish bookmaker, signed up for the service last year.

Simon Bazalgette, the non-executive director of Turf TV, confirmed that the company was also in talks with Betfred.He said: "We always believed that competition in the market would be good for racing and the bookmaking industry. [Licensed betting offices] can be more responsive to their customers' best interests, which was impossible with a single take it or leave it service."