Sun | May 31, 2020

FTC banking on BGLC to corral SVL

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2020 | 12:05 AM
Horses leave the starting gate at the Caymanas Park racing track in this August 19, 2019 file photo.
Horses leave the starting gate at the Caymanas Park racing track in this August 19, 2019 file photo.

The Fair Trading Commission, FTC, said it had concerns about the potential for the discriminatory imposition of rights fee by Supreme Ventures Limited, SVL, in favour of its subsidiary bookmaker Post to Post Betting Limited and against competing players in the market.

However, the competition watchdog said it was satisfied that sector regulator, the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission, BGLC, has the power to avert any such discriminatory conduct.

The FTC made the observations following its completion of its investigation into SVL’s acquisition of Post to Post Betting last year, which concluded that the deal was unlikely to have the effect of a substantial lessening of competition in the bookmaking services market.

The effects of the agreements on competition was assessed in three markets, namely, betting services on sports events and virtual games; betting services on simulcast horse racing, and betting on services on local horse racing.

“While the FTC had no competition concerns regarding the first two markets, for the third market, the FTC had concerns about the potential for the discriminatory imposition of rights fee by SVL in favour of PTP, and against competing players in the market,” it said.

Asked how the FTC ruling might guide any policy of the gaming sector’s regulator going forward, the BGLC, in response to Financial Gleaner enquiries a few days ago, said that as part of its regulatory and supervisory role it will also monitor for uncompetitive behaviour. “We will seek guidance and consult with the FTC when we have concerns,” the BGLC said.

It said no formal complaint has been received from the bookmakers with respect to the rights fee. The BGLC said the rights fee agreement between local racing promoters Supreme Ventures Racing and Entertainment Limited, SVREL, and the bookmakers specifies 7.5 per cent of sales on local horse racing.

The BGLC said that based on 2018/19 data, that would translate to $102.938 million and includes sales that Post to Post would have generated.

According to the regulator, for 2017/18, bookmaker sales totalled $4.77 billion, while total betting sector sale amounted to $10.62 billion. For 2018/19, bookmaker sales totalled $5.53 billion and total sector sales $11.82 billion.

The FTC had initiated its investigation after the gaming conglomerate gained control of Post to Post on July 1 of last year.

Stakeholders approached by the competition watchdog to weigh in on the acquisition included market participants Capital Betting and Wagering Limited, Ideal Betting Company Limited, Island Bet and Jamozzie/BetCris and the sector’s regulator, the BGLC, which maintains records on the market’s sales, payout and gross profit.

Bookmaking services can be described as any business that accepts bets on the outcome of sports contests and pays winners based on the mutually agreed odds, said the FTC.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com