Nottingham

'Betting' drones frustrating UK racecourses

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Media captionA BBC team filmed a drone which seemed to be monitoring a race

Action has been demanded over drones apparently broadcasting live footage of horse races to give people a betting advantage.

Racecourses across the UK have reported an increase in unauthorised drones being flown nearby.

Drone footage can be two seconds ahead of broadcasters, giving some punters a financial edge while "live betting".

A BBC team filmed a drone flying over Southwell Racecourse, whose owners said they regarded the action as theft.

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Image caption People at Southwell Races have regularly spotted drones during races

Pictures from broadcasters are at least two seconds behind what is actually happening, and Greg Wood, racing correspondent at the Guardian, said racecourses were profiting from the time lag.

He said: "[Racecourses] make money by allowing people to sit in [hospitality] boxes, given a dedicated internet feed and are able to watch the racing live and bet via a fast internet connection.

"They are selling that two-second delay and people are willing to pay thousands of pounds a year."

Arena Racing Company (ARC), which own 16 courses across the UK including Southwell, said: "Broadcast rights of our live action are a key part of our business.

"We consider this unauthorised filming and broadcasting as theft."

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Image caption Uttoxeter Racecourse has also been affected

Sarah Teale, a reporter for the BBC, said of an incident at Southwell: "As spectators watched from the stands and the horses lined up, as the action was about to get under way, on the very far side of the course, a drone had taken to the skies.

"It stayed in the air for the whole race but as soon as riders crossed the line, it landed again.

"Here at Southwell they say this has happened at every single race, at every single meeting, for the last six months."

Despite the assistance of the police and local authorities, the drones are often flown from public land.

The Racecourse Association (RCA) said: "Whilst frustrating, if the operator is not breaking the law there is limited further action that can be taken at this time."

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