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
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