BHA chief raises concerns over Ladbrokes-Coral merger
Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Committee (BHA), has said that the proposed merger between Ladbrokes and Gala Coral would have an adverse impact on customers and the UK's horseracing and greyhound industries.
Speaking in a submission to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Rust said that if the deal were to go through, it could lead to a “deterioration” in odds as well as a drop in the value of media rights.
Rust, a former senior executive with both Ladbrokes and Coral, also warned that smaller racecourses could face closure due to the devaluation of rights.
The BHA also suggested that the two brands be made to contribute to the levy through its online business, ahead of the proposed introduction of a new system next April.
However, despite these concerns, Rust said he does not oppose the deal, but did suggest that the CMA had not “appropriately” considered the wider impact that the merger could have on the UK racing industry.
“British racing is concerned that the approval of the merger with the current proposed remedies could significantly undermine those objectives through restriction of competition in the UK retail betting market,” Rust said.
Rust’s comments come after the CMA in May provisionally ruled that the merger could lead to competition concerns in parts of the UK and said that the two operators may have to sell up to 400 shops for the deal to go through.
The CMA, which said a remedy must meet their concerns in order for the merger to go ahead, extended the deadline for its final report by a further eight weeks to August 19, although the concluding report could be published by the end of this month.
Related article: CMA says Ladbrokes-Gala Coral deal may hinge on shop sales