Intellectual Property Rights: Operators vs Bookies

Who Owns What Action? Reader Andy Kay makes an interesting point

Who Owns What Action? Reader Andy Kay makes an interesting point

The recent public spat between racing operators and bookmakers prompted this letter.

Let me clearly state that I am a racing enthusiast and not a lawyer, so all my observations are that of a layman.

I believe that there is immense confusion regarding the rights of bookmakers linked to their participation in the horseracing industry.

Indeed, the term “intellectual property rights” has been bandied about extensively in the fight between the two parties. I think that very few people really understand the context, or the law, within which this term is being applied.

Having looked at the matter objectively, here are my layman’s observations in the form of a simple example, the soccer match played on Sunday 16 March, 2014 between Manchester United and Liverpool.

This “EVENT” was offered to punters via the tote as a “Soccer 1” bet. This same “EVENT” was also offered to punters via bookmakers. They must both have been entitled to do so via their South African gambling licences.

The differences between the tote and the bookmakers was identical to the differences between the two on any horse race “EVENT”, these being  :
1)    The tote has its own unique “RAKE” with the net pool being paid out to the winning punters based on a calculated “tote dividend”.
2)    The bookmakers have their own unique “RAKE” and pay winning punters according to their own pre-determined fixed odds offered.

So, there was:

ONE “EVENT”: The soccer game
ONE “RESULT”: Manchester United  0  |  Liverpool  3
TWO different betting facilitators: The tote and the bookmakers

tv_141465I watched the game on DSTV, channel 203.

So, who owned the “Intellectual Property Rights” to this match?

I guess it was the EPL (English Premier League). And, with ManU being the home team, I guess that they benefitted from the “gate takings”.
The TV rights would have benefitted the EPL, who pay the clubs their respective portions. The EPL would also have sold the TV coverage to various broadcasters around the world, thus receiving revenue for their owned “Intellectual Property”. DSTV would have been one such broadcaster who bought the rights to show the game to its viewers, who in turn pay DSTV for this privilege.

If the EPL owned “Intellectual Property Rights” to this match, did either the tote or the bookmakers (or both), have to pay the EPL a fee for offering SA punters the opportunity to bet on the result?

I would guess NOT.

So, in this regard, are the tote and the bookmakers acting illegally?

I don’t know enough of SA or International Law to comment accurately, but my guess is that they both acted legally.  Why?

Because no one owns the “Intellectual Property Rights” to the RESULT of the game, which is what all the punters wagered on.

And, by extension, I would think that SA Horse Racing Operators DO NOT OWN the “Intellectual Property Rights” to the RESULTS of horse races.

Therefore, bookmakers should not be liable for any fee whatsoever payable to horse racing operators in respect of the RESULTS of horse races.

What the racing operators DO OWN are the rights to the telephonic or televised feed of these horse race “EVENTS”.  That’s all  –  no more, no less.

With the imminent termination of DSTV Channel 239, it’s going to be very interesting to see just how the racing operators resolve the dilemma they are in.

The question I now ask myself is simply this:
“Will I gamble on an “EVENT” that I can no longer watch?”

– an email from Andy Kay

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2 comments on “Intellectual Property Rights: Operators vs Bookies

  1. billyman says:

    I think this article tells it as it is. Phumelela controls every single facet of racing.
    This whole fiasco boils down two main issues
    1.Show me the money. Phumelela’s take on the tote which exceeds 25% on exotics hence Vee Moodley in introducing all these new “ice cream” exotic bets together with its subsidy of 3% from the Government seems to be onto something good. Where does the money go? For that I suggest a forensic audit as I believe shareholders are getting preference to racing itself. Phumelela and Goldcircle the incompetents should by ,Government proxy, be forced to privatize and operate with racing and racing only in mind.
    Secondly it seems that Phumelela and Teletrack are immune to the fact that due to their ineptitude in the production of a below standard they have been fired. Like Zuma not one single head has rolled. that is the prime reason for #DSTV giving Teletrack notice .
    a. Absence of a second channel
    b An embarrassingly poor show that has resulted in major complaints which in turn has resulted in dwindling viewers
    c. The show itself had become unworthy of #DSTV lending its name to that channel
    DSTV have indicated that should Teletrack turn their fiasco around the might consider possible reinstatement. for that heads must roll.
    DSTV have also made it clear that they were open to assisting Teletrack but to date Teletrack has not found it necessary.
    In conclusion let me give a prime example to this incompetency.
    Next Saturday is the running of the Dubai World Cup where our equine Springboks spearheaded by Mike de Kock and top locally bred horses. Besides the niche market Sporting Post who for weeks now has been reviewing the program , where has this World Cup been marketed to Joe Soap the Public. The public certainly don’t have to be racing pundits to watch the Boks. Just date and time and a program of events yeh? DSTV and M-NET, literally to the point of distraction, market their forthcoming attractions well before the time/ Who spoke to them?
    I think that besides the Board of Phumelela, Goldirlcle and Teletrack as well as the secret Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust ,everyone else is fed up
    and its time don’t you think for the public to start asking searching questions.
    Who is the nobly named “The Thoroughbred Horseracing Trust? that owns over 35% of Phumelela and what do they do with their money?

  2. Leon Smuts says:

    DSTV’s decision on pulling the plug on Tellytrack has little to do with the quality of the show and rather everything to do with overall viewership. It stands to reason given the number of punters in South Africa that daily viewership will be very low relative to other channels on offer where a more diverse audience are tuning in.

    DSTV has pulled the plug on many channels over the last couple of years and this had little to do with quality, with the popularity of the content driving the decision throughout.

    We have been extremely privileged to have had a dedicated racing channel for as long as we have given the limited popularity of our sport but it remains critical to provide continued future access as Andy has alluded to in his article.

    This debacle again highlights the need for racing to actively pursue customer growth which will have tangible benefits to everyone concerned with the supply chain in racing. A large and growing customer base provides relevance and leverage when negotiating broadcasting rights and this is why customer acquisition should be a joint priority with turnover growth strategies.

    A large and more diverse customer base will tilt the scales in favour of greater coverage and have significant benefits for everyone in the industry. This setback should be seen as a warning for racing to prioritise its marketing and sales initiatives as our sport cannot survive without much needed exposure.

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