I’ll fly drones and nobody can stop me! Well-known gambler vows to carry on filming at British tracks

  • Racecourses are pressing for action against drones being flown over tracks 
  • They claim they’re being used to give punters an unfair advantage 
  • Officials say drone images are being bought by gamblers who bet during races
  • Crucially, images punters receive are seconds ahead of conventional TV feeds

Marcus Townend for the Daily Mail

A gambler who claims to be responsible for half the drones being flown at British racecourses says the chances of him being stopped are ‘slim to none’.

The man, who contacted Sportsmail, gave his name as Mick. He is understood to be a well-known figure in the community of punters who bet while races unfold — or ‘in running’, as it is known.

He said he operated within the law and that his drones filmed from outside the perimeters of racecourses.

Drones have been spotted at several British racecourses including Uttoxeter (above)

Drones have been spotted at several British racecourses including Uttoxeter (above)

Mick said: ‘I will send pictures to whoever I want to. It won’t be up to the racecourses.

‘It is my copyright, my pictures, my camera. The racecourse can try to stop me, but they will find that legally very hard without any cameras coming into the racecourse.’

Sportsmail reported on Monday that racecourses are concerned about drones fitted with cameras which deliver ultra up-to-date pictures to punters who bet while a race unfolds. The pictures can give a gambler an edge when betting against a fellow punter on a betting exchange who relies on pictures from a standard delayed feed.

Mick admitted he was responsible for drones that are launched from the roof of a building alongside the back straight at Leicester racecourse, witnessed by Sportsmail.

He claimed he would be flying a drone at Ayr on Sunday. Mick said: ‘We are in a public area. We are flying our drones within the rules and regulations set out by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Drones can provide punters with images a few seconds before conventional TV feeds 

Drones can provide punters with images a few seconds before conventional TV feeds 

Drones can provide punters with images a few seconds before conventional TV feeds 

‘I have made sure I am so far above the law, I am probably four years ahead of any drone law that will be brought into effect by the British Government.

‘The chances of them getting that stopped are slim to none. I will encourage other traders to get drones as well and we can all share the pictures.

‘By the end of next month, I will have a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) fitted with the best cameras money can buy. I will have four drones in the air at any one time around the country sending me pictures. I could not give a damn what the racecourses think.’

Mick, who is understood to have previously used cherry-pickers parked beside tracks to film races, said he made sure his drones never encroached over racecourse property.

He added: ‘With the cameras we’ve got, we do not need to go near the racecourse. We have to keep to the restrictions of the CAA.

‘The initial costing to get legal on a drone, register with the CAA and do the course which gives you permission for commercial operations, you are talking £20,000 to launch one drone. It is not a cheap venture.

‘Everyone who works on my two teams has got a professional commercial pilot’s licence. They have all been on a course which costs £1,000.

‘The only racecourse I can’t do is Kempton because of (nearby) Heathrow airport. It is inside a no-fly zone. We won’t risk doing it there because that is a safety issue. The one thing we are not going to be is unsafe.

‘People think this is an easy game and you just turn up and nick a fortune, but it is not easy to win every day. Some days I can lose £6,000 or £7,000.’

The British Horseracing Authority says that while the issue of drones is the responsibility of racecourses, it could get involved if one caused a disruptive race-day incident.

A spokesman said: ‘The BHA would become involved should we be informed by the racecourse executive that an unauthorised drone or unmanned craft is causing a potential risk to horses, participants or the general public on site.’


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