The Jockey Club’s agreement with Racing.com to show Hong Kong racing in Australia may already be on shaky ground after the inaugural presentation amounted to a four-hour commercial for a fixed odds bookmaker on Wednesday night.
The Happy Valley meeting was the first fixture to be shown via Racing.com – a 24-hour digital, multi-platform joint venture between racing authorities in the state of Victoria and major broadcaster Seven West Media – as part of the “multi-year” agreement announced late last month to promote commingling.
The coverage got off to a poor start as there were reportedly difficulties with access on some Racing.com platforms, but things got worse on the avenues that were available.
Last week, the Jockey Club executive director of marketing and customer management, Richard Cheung Che-kit, said the club had received assurances of a clean feed for Hong Kong racing, and said the “deal with Racing.com explicitly agrees that there are to be no logos or online referrals to betting sites shown during telecasts of Hong Kong racing, other than those of our commingling partner”.
TABCorp is the club’s commingling partner, receiving bets on Hong Kong races through its parimutuel channels then relaying them into our home pools.
However, on Wednesday night, the Racing.com coverage was wall-to-wall exposure for the corporate bookmaking firm, CrownBet, a full-time partner of Racing.com’s telecasts of racing in the state of Victoria.
Like other bookmaking firms overseas, CrownBet also offers fixed odds wagering on Hong Kong without Jockey Club permission.
“The first we knew of this was through social media – the Racing.com channel is geoblocked so that we cannot watch it in Hong Kong and we could not be sure that what we were hearing was correct,” Cheung said yesterday.
“There was some conflicting evidence about the situation, too, so we want to be sure. However, plainly we have entered this situation to benefit our commingling and commingling partner and do not expect that these telecasts will advertise fixed odds on our races or any betting organisation other than TABCorp. That would be a violation of our interests and a violation of the spirit of this agreement.”
Cheung said the club would have further discussions in-housebefore deciding on the future of the telecasts, with the next scheduled for Sunday.
“Actually, this is a shock for us,” he said. “We are discussing, internally, what our options may be, so I cannot say at this time what those options are or what option we might take.”
Wednesday night’s Racing.com feed should have been the easy one to keep “clean” as there was only the Happy Valley meeting to be shown.
On Sunday, the Sha Tin meeting will share the telecast, overlapping with meetings shown from Pakenham and Warrnambool in Victoria and making a presentation without mentioning corporate bookmakers far more difficult, if not impossible.