After years of stalling and false promises, Britain’s bookmakers will now pay contributions into the British Greyhound Racing Fund on their internet business, in addition to their betting shop turnover writes Floyd Amphlett.

The voluntary arrangement has been signed by Betfred, William Hill, Sky Betting and Gaming, and Paddy Power Betfair. Bet 365 and Ladbrokes Coral had already signed up.

It is estimated to bring in roughly £3m in the first year, though that figure is ‘educated guesswork’ with none of the companies having revealed the exact size of their greyhound turnover. It should offset the decline in betting shop turnover which has been badly hit by the media rights battle.

The deal is a coup for the new DCMS Minister Mims Davies, and a personal triumph for GBGB Managing Director Mark Bird who has worked tirelessly to finally nail an agreement with the competing companies.

The Minister said: “I am delighted to have reached an agreement with leading operators to ensure the welfare of our greyhounds is protected and improved through this fund.

“As the sixth most watched sport in Britain, it is clear that the welfare and care of all racing greyhounds, from registration to retirement, must be a fundamental part of its successful future.
“I strongly urge all remaining bookmakers that take bets on greyhound racing who have not signed up to this agreement to follow suit and support the sport. Any greyhounds put to sleep due to medical treatment being too expensive, or a poor prognosis is one too many – we must stop this.”

Mark Bird wrote: “As we start the New Year, I wanted to bring you all some good news on funding for our sport.“As you know, GBGB has been working closely with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to secure additional funding from the bookmakers. Today Sports Minister Mims Davies has announced that Betfred, PaddyPower-Betfair, Sky Bet and William Hill have all agreed to contribute 0.6% of their turnover on online greyhound racing bets to the British Greyhound Racing Fund (BGRF). This covers all online bets placed since 1st January 2019 and is in addition to their current contributions from their betting shops. This agreement follows Ladbrokes-Coral and Bet365 who are already making this contribution. As part of today’s announcement, Jenningsbet have also agreed to commence contributions and join the other 90% of land-based bookmakers contributing to the Fund. 

“This is very welcome news which will deliver up to £3 million to the BGRF enabling us to fund a greater number of welfare and integrity projects including a wider roll-out of the Injury Recovery Scheme. 

“Today’s announcement is the result of a huge amount of hard work from people across the sport. Thank you to everyone who has played their part in helping to broker this agreement. Likewise, on behalf of the industry, I would like to extend my thanks to Lord Lipsey who has long called for a fair return to the industry from bookmakers’ profits and who has been instrumental in mediating this increase in funding.

“We remain, however, dependent on further funding from the bookmakers to secure the long-term sustainability of our sport. There is still a long way to go to achieve additional funding, but today’s announcement is an important step forward in enabling us to meet our Greyhound Commitment. Encouragingly, the Government has said that it will continue to engage with those bookmakers who are yet to contribute to the BGRF and we will continue to work alongside them to ensure we are able to secure the funding we need to uphold the highest welfare standards for our greyhounds.

“With very best wishes for 2019”

We will be following up this story in the coming days with reflection on what the new deal means for the industry in the months and years ahead