UK bookmakers will now be able to advertise during the At the Races commercial breaks, permitting them to target a very specific audience.
The channel announced it is opening the door to spot advertising this week, and for the very first time gambling ads will be broadcast during live racing from the UK and Ireland, as well as throughout its content from the US, France, South Africa and Australia.
The move comes as the Deputy UK Labor Party, Tom Watson, called upon football associations to ban gambling sponsorships.
Commercial director at ATR, Tony Sweeney, spoke to the Racing Post and revealed that gambling firms were content with the gambling sponsoring deal up until the recent media attention.
“We’ve always been looking at it [spot advertising] – there’s been no pressure from anyone to implement it until now.”
Corporate bookmakers are also facing a potential ban on gambling advertising during live sporting events before 9pm, similarly to the Australian media reforms recently proposed.
“There’s a difference between the sponsorship, which is essentially branding, and spot advertising, which our partners feel is an additionally effective way of promotion,” Sweeney said.
“Television advertising from bookmakers has increased over the last 18 months, and we are talking to our partners on a regular basis to make sure we are doing what’s best for them.
“This adds to the valuable marketing opportunities we already offer to the bookmaking sector.”
While the gambling restrictions could extend to racing coverage, The Sky and Arena Racing co-owned channel isn’t worried about the new reforms. The broadcaster stated the move to allow spot advertising, with bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral the first to sign on with ATR, suited the company’s long-term goals.
“If it is decided that bookmaker advertising should be restricted in any shape or form then we will comply with the decision,” Sweeney said.
“We have to make our decisions looking forward and not on what may or may not be happening in the short or medium term.”
Ladbrokes partnership will see the bookmaker targeting a specific audience, while their ads on other channels target a broader group of people who may enjoy a punt on sporting events and racing.
Ladbrokes Coral director of marketing, Alexis Zamboglou, said it was a great opportunity for the company to attract racing enthusiasts.
“At The Races is synonymous with horseracing and importantly, with betting,” he said.
“Its coverage not only contains live sporting events that are vital to our sportsbook, but is delivered in a manner that revolves around the punter.”
Ladbrokes Coral spokesman, Simon Clare, added that the company has “enjoyed a strong and positive commercial and editorial relationship with At The Races for many years and this advertising opportunity represents an exciting new phase in that relationship.”