UK horseracing firm may add casino games at racetracks
By Paul
Arena Leisure says that racetracks in the UK may soon boast casinos and gaming halls, as a response to what it calls a “challenging and important period”, according to a report on BBC news.

'We have initiated detailed research into the opportunities that this framework would present our racecourse operations,' Arena said in earnings statement on Tuesday.

'This will put us in the best possible position to take advantage of the proposed changes when they are expected to become law in 2003-04.'

The proposals would put Arena racecourses such as Windsor and Lingfield directly in competition with resort towns such as Blackpool, which are gearing up to be the new gaming centres of the UK – provided the UK government backs recommendations by former Treasury adviser Sir Alan Budd to relax gambling regulations.

Tuesday’s financial statement revealed a pre-tax loss of £6.2 million ($8.94 million) last year, but Managing Director Ian Penrose said operational expansions had secured the firm a “pre-eminent position.”

May 1 sees the launch of the Attheraces TV channel, a joint venture with BSkyB and Channel 4 TV, which will broadcast live to almost 6 million homes in the UK and Ireland.

'This brings 200 times more potential viewers than were previously subscribing to watch racing programmes,' Mr Penrose said.

If there is a blackspot on the horizon for Arena, it is that the contract for TV feeds to betting shops expires after April 30, with Arena holding out for £40,000 ($57,710) per fixture for TV rights for its raceccourses, compared with the current £9,000 ($12,980) – per meeting deal.

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