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GBI Racing compensated by Israeli government amid gambling crackdown

GBI Racing, a joint venture between UK pay-television broadcasters Racing UK and At The Races, has agreed a £4.9m (€5.5m/$6.6m) compensation package with the Israeli government after the country moved to ban betting on horse racing.

The company, which distributes coverage of British and Irish racing to betting operators based overseas, had a contract in place with the Israel Sports Betting Board to provide its services in the country until at least August this year.

However, the Israeli government earlier this week introduced a blanket ban on wagering on horse racing and GBI Racing has been forced to halt operations in the country.

According to the Racing Post newspaper, the Israeli Ministry of Finance, the government body behind the move, has now agreed to pay GBI Racing 23m shekels, roughly equivalent to £4.9m, in compensation for the early termination of the contract.

In a statement, a GBI spokesperson said: “The closure is a shame, given the giant strides GBI Racing has made in the four and a half years of trading in Israel. The country had no history of horseracing, no infrastructure to facilitate betting on horseracing, and had no real affiliation with a uniquely British product.

“GBI Racing quickly established Israel as a key market; it’s a partnership that has delivered substantial revenues and funding to UK and Irish racecourses, as well as for sports and government good causes in Israel, but we have accepted the ministry’s decision and the political will to close the operation.

“We believe it is a fair settlement, given the circumstances.”

The spokesperson also said GBI Racing will seek opportunities in other regions to help fill the void left by the Israeli exit, and highlighted Italy and Africa as markets where the company could seek new business.

“It is now up to GBI Racing to fill that hole by increasing revenues in existing and new markets,” the spokesperson said. “We are excited about opportunities in Italy and Africa.”