The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) today reacted with dismay to news that another betting operator is to move its remote betting operation overseas. William Hill’s decision to relocate its UK based telephone operations to Gibraltar will see horseracing Levy payments fall by between £2m and £3m a year. This is on top of a fall in levy income of over a third, from £115m to £75m in the last two years.
The Levy underpins the social, economic and cultural contribution that Racing makes to the country through investment in activity including integrity services, veterinary welfare, training programmes and its financial underpinning of the sport’s infrastructure of owners, trainers, jockeys and the sixty courses across Britain that give racing its unique reach.
One of the major reasons for this is that betting operators are moving their online and telephone operations overseas to avoid the legal requirement established more than forty years ago by Parliament to pay a fair return to horseracing.
Nic Coward, BHA Chief Executive, said:
“Today’s news is another major blow for racing and reiterates that urgent Government action is needed to safeguard the future of our sport. It is hardly surprising that betting operators should look to take advantage of a lax regulatory regime to further increase their profits at the expense of British racing and British jobs.
“British Racing needs the new Government to take urgent action to amend the flawed regime they inherited.
“The solution to this issue lies in Government introducing new regulatory arrangements for overseas operators that will see them comply with similar standards to those licensed in the UK, including paying Levy. The Levy Board has confirmed to Government that there are no barriers to Levy collection being part of new these proposed new licensing arrangements.
“The BHA will be seeking urgent talks with the Government to address this situation.”