Monday, July 4

Drones bring UK racetracks headlong: this is how they influence betting and business

New technologies, new opportunities … And new challenges. The galloping success of drones, which in a relatively short time have numbered in the thousands in Spain – in 2019 the Government registered 5,500 and 3,600 authorized operators– and already starring in ambitious logistics and security projects at an international level, it brings one of the richest industries in the United Kingdom upside down: betting. More specifically, to those of horse bets.

For years the owners of the racetracks in England have seen with a growing and undisguised anger how drones fly over their tracks during races. Why? For two reasons. First, because they feel violated the image rights of the competitions they organize and to which they provide their infrastructure. Second, and this is perhaps the main cause, the one that arouses the greatest discomfort in the sector, for the benefit that some players can get from these images in online bets already in real time – known as “In-running” -, which are made and modified while the horses are still moving along the tracks.

Image latency, the key

Unlike a player who is following the race from home, using Racing TV broadcasts The Sky Sports RacingFor example, those who receive images captured by drones do so with practically no latency. It may seem like a slim advantage, but – when it comes to racing – having a few extra seconds to spare can make the difference between gaining or losing a good handful of pounds. As detailed by WireThose who follow TV broadcasts from betting houses or websites can receive the images with delays ranging between 0.5 and 3 seconds. And a couple seconds for a galloping horse is a world.

The issue is so serious that the sector –as reported in May at least Racing Post– It has even been considered to go to the legal route. “There is a group of drones among all the racetracks and at some point we will seek to litigate against the main companies that are using them,” said Paul Ellison, head of the Brighton track. The problem, as the manager himself recognized, is that those who use the drones move in a fine line in which they would not violate the law.

“They are operating in a perfectly legal way. The police verified all their licenses on our first day of race and there is nothing we can do about it at this time except litigate, which I think we will do at some point ”, he pointed out in spring.

At the beginning of the year one of the UK companies specializing in drones, FoxFly, even advertised on Twitter a “live air transmission service from all racetracks” in which it guaranteed “The best and fastest images”. By echoing the ad, The Guardian He pulled out the calculator and estimated that at a rate of £ 100-200 per day, the company would come in on the order of between 7,000 and 14,000 per week. The figure gives an idea of ​​how juicy the business is.

The Guardian He even contacted the head of the drone company, who defends the legality of his business. “We have researched this quite extensively and it is my image. [la del dron] if I want to sell it. If you went to a racetrack and filmed the image on your screen, then you would be filming your production and that would be illegal because you would be stealing; but every time I record an image with my drone from a public space that image is mine, only mine. I can use the image for whatever purpose I want ”, argued the businessman.

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One of the great keys to the controversy is precisely that: the recordings – as also reflected this Wired report– They are carried out from spaces close to the racetracks, but public. What’s more, Oabdy’s neighbors, who live near the Leicester track, they offer them even 50 pounds in exchange for allow drones to take off from their plots.

The material used by the companies is also top-notch, models equipped with cameras and that can cost around £ 20,000 to £ 30,000. The devices are also registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of the country and their operators must be authorized. For David Armstrong of the Racecourse Association, it is however –recoge Racing Post– from “Violations of intellectual property and our press rights”.

The advertising of the betting houses has it crude: tomorrow the Royal Decree that limits it notably comes into force

The case has even reached the House of Lords. “Sports organizations are losing valuable income for the rights of the media and just as important, if not more, is that the lack of copyright on the events has caused a great expansion of illegal gambling ”, Viscount Astor recently lamented: “We don’t want to criminalize the fan for filming their favorite event. We want to stop those who are selling the images and not only degrade the rights of the media, but affect the growth of the harmful game. ”

The debate is served.

Images | Paul (Flickr) Y Tobias Begemann (Flickr)

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