Parliamentary reception report – Tuesday 5 September

08 Sep 23

British racing hosted a Parliamentary ‘Parade Ring’ reception on Tuesday 5 September, sponsored by Laura Farris, the MP for Newbury, in the Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons. 

The event welcomed 37 MPs and Peers, including eight Government Ministers and one Shadow Minister, parliamentary staffers, and officials from Government Departments as well as the Gambling Commission. There were also more than 60 racing industry guests, including senior representatives from businesses across the British racing industry. 

Exhibitors were invited to bring information stands in an event showcasing the very best of British racing and to demonstrate to MPs what funding from the Horserace Betting Levy supports in the sport. Exhibitors present included: CareersinRacing, GBRI, Horse Welfare Board, National Racehorse Week, The Jockey Club, Racehorse Owners Association, and Racing Together. 

The event also provided a valuable opportunity for British racing to apprise MPs of some of the challenges faced by British racing, including the current funding gap experienced by the sport and the potential unintended financial consequences for racing of the proposals currently being consulted on by the Gambling Commission. 

The event was opened by speeches from Co-Chair of the Racing APPG Laurence Robertson MP, BHA Chief Executive Julie Harrington and the Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society, Stuart Andrew MP.  

Laurence spoke of his pride to be the Co-Chair of the parliamentary group for ‘one of the country’s leading sports’, paid tribute to the ‘indispensable’ role played by Stable Staff, Trainers, Jockeys and Owners in racing and also noted the significant economic impact Racing make, by providing jobs in rural areas and hosting major meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival, held in Laurence’s constituency.  

In Julie’s remarks, which can be read here, she described British racing’s elite global standing and how reforming the sport’s funding model can secure a vibrant and prosperous future. Julie also relayed concerns from racing bettors regarding the potential implications of the Government’s Gambling White Paper, expressing once again the BHA’s belief that a blanket approach to affordability is not appropriate. 

Minister Andrew, fresh from an appearance earlier in the day at the CMS Committee Gambling Inquiry, acknowledged the ‘significant contribution racing makes to our economy, supporting jobs and livelihoods throughout Britain’, outlined that DCMS was carefully considering British racing’s evidence to the Levy Review and noted that concerns from the racing industry over financial risk checks had been lodged with officials.  

The Minister noted that the BHA had: “made its case that there is a significant gap in [racing’s] funding which means that it is unable to compete with jurisdictions such as the Republic of Ireland and France. And they have also submitted suggestions of how to close the funding gap and have asked for international races to be brought in scope of the Levy and for a change in its rate. And we are in the process of considering very carefully these proposals as we undertake our review. It is a priority for me that we come to an evidence-based outcome of the Levy review. I’ve also encouraged racing and betting to work together in the best interests of the sport as reaching a mutual agreement on the way forward on the Levy would be beneficial for everyone.” 

Andrew also encouraged British racing to respond to the Gambling Commission’s consultation to help shape the detail of changes to Gambling regulation and provided an assurance that checks will only be introduced ‘when there is confidence that they will indeed be frictionless for the vast majority of people’.  

On behalf of British racing, the BHA will continue to work hard to deliver our objectives around the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the Government’s review of the Gambling Act. Further updates on our progress will be provided in due course. 

We’d like to thank all those that worked hard to organise the event including the Exhibitors and the team at Hanover Communications.