Voluntary funding dispute between Betfair and HRI

More details have emerged regarding the voluntary funding dispute between the international online betting exchange Betfair and Horse Racing Ireland

It appears that Betfair's offer of a further voluntary investment of Euro 4.5 million over the next three years has been rejected by HRI, which wants the gambling group to double its contribution. Betfair has declined to do so, indicating that it will leave the door open for further talks going into 2010.

Betfair's offer of payment comes despite the Irish operation representing less than 5 percent of its total revenue.

Over the past three years, Betfair has made a total of Euro 4.9 million in contributions to the HRI in a "cooperation agreement" for the good of the sport, and the rejection by the HRI management at a time when it is suffering state funding cuts and has had to scale back on prizes has surprised some observers. One unidentified senior government figure is quoted by the Irish newspaper Independent as saying: "How in the hell can they turn down a single cent at a time when budgets all over the place are being squeezed. Someone needs to take a very quick reality check."

However, Brian Kavanagh, CEO of the HRI remains adamant that he will accept only an amount double that offered from Betfair, and that should negotiations recommence in 2010 it will have to be on the basis that any deal done in 2010 would have to be done on a "pre-condition that it would be backdated to the start of 2009".

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