Horseracing faces losing ground in the highly competitive gambling market if the deregulatory proposals recommended by the Gambling Review Body (GRB) are implemented without measures of commensurate benefit to Racing.
In its Memorandum to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the British Horseracing Board, while welcoming the recommendations for the strengthening of consumer protection, has expressed serious concern that a number of the GRB’s proposals would lead to significant deregulation and diversification of gambling, but deny Racing any opportunity to widen the distribution of its own product.
The GRB’s rejection of BHB’s recommendation that betting should be allowed in pubs and clubs, under properly controlled conditions, is particularly regretted, especially as the GRB’s view is wholly inconsistent with its proposal that alcohol should be allowed on the gaming floor in casinos. Betting in pubs would have increased consumer choice, allowed the current distribution monopoly enjoyed by the off-course betting industry to be broken, and provided the opportunity for increased revenue for Government, Racing, the punter and the betting industry.
BHB has repeated its view that consideration should be given to a proposal, also made in its evidence to the GRB last year, that certain types of small-stake, big-win horserace betting opportunities be permitted in unlicensed, retail outlets on a limited basis. Such bets would not offer the ability for rapid repeat play or the immediate chasing of losses and would therefore mitigate the GRB’s concerns arising from the mixing of gambling and alcohol.
In the Memorandum, BHB has opposed:
betting on the UK National Lottery
the introduction of jackpot machines into betting offices
the proposal that there be no universally-permitted core opening hours for licensed betting offices
BHB has also called on Government to give consideration to:
amending the legislation which currently permits terrestrial television coverage of racing to be shown in betting offices without payment to the provider of the racing product
tighter regulation and control of person-to-person betting exchanges
Government has also been asked by BHB to modify:
the GRB’s recommendation that the operator of a racecourse or point to point should have to obtain both a certificate from the Gambling Commission and a premises licence from the local authority
the arrangements proposed by the GRB, under which racecourses, whose greater use particularly on non-race days BHB fully supports, would be permitted to offer a wider range of gambling facilities.
BHB Secretary-General Tristram Ricketts said today: “Racing is not afraid of competition, but it must be allowed to compete on a level playing field. The GRB recommends significant deregulation for all categories of gambling, notably casinos but also bingo, gaming machines and society lotteries, as well as for betting generally, but without commensurate benefits for betting on horseracing.
“We welcome many of the GRB’s recommendations which, particularly in the area of punter protection, are in line with our own proposals. However, domestic and overseas experience has shown that growth in other forms of gambling has a very negative impact on horserace betting, which, of all gambling media, supports the largest workforce. We look to Government to take both a balanced view of the gambling market and careful note of the concerns which we, and no doubt others, are expressing.”
A copy of the Executive Summary of BHB’s Memorandum to DCMS is attached. The full submission can be found here on BHB’s website at www.bhb.co.uk (see “”The BHB”” and “”BHB Reports””), as can BHB’s written evidence to the GRB in 2000.
For further information, please contact BHB Communications Manager Alan Delmonte on 020 7343 3318 or 07931 701536
1. BHB welcomes the strong and recurrent theme in the Report of the Gambling Review Body (GRB) that additional measures should be introduced to strengthen consumer protection.
2. BHB is deeply concerned about the recommended significant deregulation of all aspects of gambling. While not afraid of competition in the overall gambling market, Racing opposes deregulation on the scale recommended without commensurate measures and opportunities of direct benefit to horserace betting, notably the widening of the distribution of the product.
3. BHB supports:
the establishment of a Gambling Commission with, broadly, the powers and responsibilities proposed for it by the GRB, including those relating to the prosecution of illegal gambling offences.
in principle, the transfer of responsibility for licensing premises from the local licensing justices to the local authority.
the priority given by the GRB to recommendations designed to keep gambling crime-free.
the removal of the demand criterion for betting shops.
the extension of the ability to advertise betting and other gambling products.
the ability of betting shops to offer food as well as non-alcoholic drinks.
the abolition of the rules restricting charges for the entry of bookmakers to racecourses.
the assumption by the Gambling Commission of the NJPC’s responsibilities for on-course betting.
the assumption by the Gambling Commission of responsibility for ensuring that the SP system is fair and transparent.
the enforceability by law of gambling debts.
an appropriate Gambling Commission-endorsed scheme for the arbitration of betting disputes, with acceptance of decisions being a condition of the grant of a bookmaker’s permit.
the GRB’s recommendations for the regulation of on-line gambling.
the need for a body to fulfil functions proposed for the Gambling Trust in addressing problem gambling, subject to Government satisfying itself that these functions cannot effectively be discharged by existing organisations.
4. BHB opposes:
betting on the UK National Lottery.
the introduction of jackpot machines into betting offices.
the proposal that there be no universally-permitted core opening hours, for licensed betting offices.
5. BHB considers that further consideration should be given to:
the proposal that the operator of a racecourse or point to point should have to obtain both a certificate from the Gambling Commission and a premises licence from the local authority.
the proposed arrangements under which racecourses, whose wider use particularly on non-race days BHB fully supports, would be permitted to offer a wider range of gambling facilities.
6. BHB urges that consideration also be given to:
amending the legislation which currently permits terrestrial television coverage of racing to be shown in betting offices without payment to the provider of the racing product.
tighter regulation and control of person-to-person betting exchanges.
7. In connection with its recommendation to the GRB that betting be permitted, under properly controlled conditions, in pubs and clubs, BHB:
greatly regrets the GRB’s rejection of this proposal.
considers this rejection wholly inconsistent with the GRB’s proposal that alcohol should be allowed on the gaming floor in casinos.
noting that the GRB makes no distinction in this context between different types of betting, urges that consideration be given to BHB’s earlier proposal that betting opportunities in retail outlets be restricted to small stake, big win prizes on a set number of events. The consequent inability for rapid repeat play or the immediate chasing of losses would mitigate the GRB’s concerns arising from the mixing of gambling and alcohol.