Channel 4 is in talks with four gambling companies with a view to setting up an interactive TV gambling service this summer.
The channel is negotiating with Littlewoods Bet Direct, Ladbrokes, Blue Square and Skybet about establishing the service. One company is expected to sign before the beginning of the summer.
Channel 4 wants to have an interactive gambling service, which digital viewers can access from the main channel, in place by September. The end of its involvement in Attheraces, the dedicated horseracing channel, means there will be added importance on the creation of a successful scheme. Attheraces was created up by Channel 4, with partners Arena Leisure and BSkyB, to generate revenue through interactive betting on horses. Channel 4 pulled out of the venture as it was not generating enough revenue.
Arena announced yesterday (Tuesday) it will continue to operate Attheraces with Sky.
Channel 4’s interactive gambling service will also cover other sports shown on the channel, such as cricket. But Channel 4’s decision to offer the service will come as particular relief to the horseracing industry after worries that the broadcaster may withdraw from the sport.
A spokeswoman confirms Channel 4 is in talks to renew its broadcasting contract with 49 racecourses, which ends in June. She adds: “There will be a slight reduction in coverage, but the deal is likely to be similar, with around 200 hours of horse racing a year.”