Online British bookies get into the animal circus
By maddy
Internet punters are now looking at the prospect of betting on rodents after horses and grey-hounds. The Television Gaming Group, behind Avago and iSportsTV interactive channels on Sky are planning to launch live gerbil racing.

‘Animal-based games on an interactive TV channels will be more compelling. The big issue, unfortunately for the purists in the horseracing world, is that an increasing percentage of money is being made by the bookmakers on non-sports betting events,’ says Damian Cope, Gaming Group managing director and founder of Blue Square - the internet bookie which kicked off snail, hamster and even goldfish races.

Avago's most popular game is a form of bingo, while iSports TV shows virtual computer-generated racing. Both channels have a low cost base compared with Attheraces, which did not generate the revenues through interactive betting to cover its costs. Its greyhound-equivalent, Gobarkingmad, also had inadequate interactive revenues to sustain the service.

To combat the slack, Sky has launched a ‘soft’ betting channel, Sky Vegas Live, with numbers games, virtual horse and dog racing to follow. ‘Sports betting is still strong on football and other events. Our experience is that there is an appetite among digital viewers for both sports betting and soft betting services,’ said a Sky spokesperson.

For now online and telly gamblers have more choice than ever to bet to on their footy team to their favorite hamster.

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