BHA WELCOMES GOVERNMENT SUPPORT TO BRING OFFSHORE LEVY PAYMENTS TO BRITISH RACING

05 Mar 2014 Financial/Political

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has strongly welcomed last night’s announcement by Government that it will introduce an Amendment to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill which should lead to offshore based remote bookmakers contributing to the Horserace Betting Levy.

Yesterday’s announcement by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Spokesperson in the House of Lords, came during the House of Lords Report Stage, and reflects a cross-party consensus that there should be a level playing field in terms of Racing’s funding.

The sport has a commercial deal in place with Betfair, and last autumn reached an arrangement with the major retail bookmakers William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred, for additional voluntary contributions, but remote operators based outside of Great Britain have no requirement to contribute to the sport’s funding, with this loophole estimated to cost British Racing around £20 million annually.

Paul Bittar, BHA Chief Executive, said:

“On behalf of the British Racing industry, I would like to thank the Government for its forthcoming Amendment to the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill, which will close a loophole that has significantly undermined the funding of our industry for a number of years.

“The industry greatly appreciates the support of the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Equalities Helen Grant MP and Lord Gardiner of Kimble on this matter, and their efforts in recent months to secure this critical Amendment.

“There are further steps to take, and we look forward to swift conversations with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to this effect, while continuing to work constructively with bookmakers.

“British Racing has been delighted with the cross-party support which it has received in both Houses on this issue since 2010 and I would like to express particular thanks to Clive Efford MP, Lord Collins of Highbury, Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Viscount Astor, Lord Clement-Jones, Matthew Hancock MP and Anne McIntosh MP, amongst many others, for their advocacy on this issue in numerous debates on remote gambling and Racing’s funding.

“Nonetheless, as referenced by Lord Gardiner during his remarks last night, British Racing believes that further fundamental reform or replacement of the Levy is still required, which allows for proper arrangements with the betting industry which are sustainable, enforceable and which removes the role of Government from the current process.”

Notes to Editors:

1. Speaking last night in the House of Lords, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, House of Lords Spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said:

“[The Government] agree with the view that while we still have a statutory levy, it should be fairly applied. Furthermore, we are persuaded that including a clause about extending the levy to offshore remote operators is fully in keeping with the context and purpose of the Bill.

“We will therefore bring forward a government amendment at Third Reading which will remedy your Lordships’ concerns about ensuring a level playing field between onshore and offshore betting operators in terms of the levy. With the consent of the House, this amendment will give the Secretary of State power to use secondary legislation to secure extension of the levy to offshore remote operators… Bringing forward a government amendment will complement the work which, as I mentioned to your Lordships, is already under way to seek clarity on the state aid issues from the European Commission. The Government will consult on implementing an extension before any secondary legislation is brought before Parliament.

“The Government want British racing to continue to thrive. I know from my own experience just how important racing is to so many in the countryside and of course in all communities—not only its economic impact but the pleasure it gives to so many millions of people. Extending the levy to offshore remote operators will help achieve the objective we all share. I want to say particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Collins of Highbury, that bringing forward a government amendment about extending the levy in the way that I have described does not of course close down options for wider levy reform or replacement. This is very much work in progress.”

2. Last night’s debate in the House of Lords can be read at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldhansrd/lhan122.pdf

For more information contact:

Will Lambe

British Horseracing Authority
t:0207 152 0028
m:07816 914409
e: wlambe@britishhorseracing.com