With the government's introduction of gross profits tax in the U.K., the gambling industry is enjoying a rise in profits - which is not reflected in racing's dwindling share of the market, reported the Independent.
Sales of the Racing Post, a daily publication dubbed the "horseracing bible", are currently down at around seven per cent year-on-year, forcing the publication to include listings on anything from reality TV shows to politics in a bid to generate revnue. According to Alan Byrne, the Racing Post's chief executive; "If you can bet on it, we report it and analyse it and would attempt to provide statistical basis for that analysis," thus drawing parallels between the niche role of the publication with that of financial papers, commenting; "rather like the FT we are analysing data and focusing on a series of markets. In our case they happen to be horse races, the Premiership or even The X Factor".
And in a further parallel with other financial titles, such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, the Racing Post believes it too is now justified in charging online users for access to its new specialist services.
In July of this year, Racing Post online launched an enhanced online service for its customers prepared to part with a membership fee of £7.50 a month. For those willing to spend a little more, £9.50 a month permits access to a premium tipping service, and the "Ultimate Membership" for £199.95 a year, has been joined by over a quarter of members. Byrne insists this is not a move towards exclusivity but rather an effort to establish an online base that "will contain more and better free content than anybody else's site," as well as creating a huge database containing the records of every race and horse ever run.
Though Byrne admits to concerns that the launch of the specialist online subscription service may give rise to a decline in print sales, there has so far been no evidence of this - perhaps attributable to the skilful manoeuvrings of the website creators. One of the most prized assets of the print edition is Tom Segal's "Pricewise" column, hailed "the world's best tipping service" - yet "Pricewise Extra", Segal's quick response to the betting that bookmakers release on Saturday morning, arrives too late for the newspaper and so is included at the core of the £9.50 online tipping service. Byrne recognises however, that "having moved to a situation of charging for some premium content we absolutely have to deliver a top class service" adding that users "are quick to complain if this premium content is not available on the dot of midday."