Dermot O’Connell, the operating manager of the South African bookmaker, Hollywoodbets said that the group intended fighting a R350 million lawsuit brought against it by Tellytrack. Hollywoodbets is being accused of breaching copyright by the company jointly owned by Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, and Gold Circle, two South African racecourse operators.
Tellytrack, which provides live TV screening of horse racing in South Africa and Zimbabwe, recently changed its policy, demanding that bookmakers such as Hollywoodbets (which owns 64 betting outlets throughout South Africa), pay 3% of their revenue as a monthly service fee. Until February 1st, bookies were only required to pay R5,500 per month for each outlet of the Tellytrack service.
Tellytrack justified changing its policy by claiming that it would create a “level playing field” for bookmakers.
“The sport of horse racing as administered by the two racing operators should be permitted to charge a market-related fee for their intellectual property,” argued Tellytrack.
However, bookies such as Hollywoodbets have not warmed to Tellytrack’s change in policy, saying that since Phulemela and Gold Circle received 50% of betting tax revenue from local gambling authorities, and since that money was already made up of 6% tax paid in by bookmakers, they should not be subject to a type of “double-tax”.
A number of bookmakers did agree to Tellytrack’s demands, however and, after paying the new fees, were given a new decoder-based platform. It is alleged that,
after police raided betting outlets, several bookies, including Hollywoodbets circumvented the issue by bringing in home decoders and accessing the Tellytrack material through home subscription channels.
A lawsuit has now been brought against Hollywoodbets, which, as noted, the bookmaker has opted to fight.
The South African bookmaker industry has attempted several times to fight Tellytrack’s monopoly over the South African racing world, to no avail. In February, nearly 40 Gauteng bookmakers, together with the Gauteng Off Course Bookmakers Association, requested a court order against Tellytrack, however it was unable to obtain the required interdict.