The British Horseracing Authority today welcomed a Ministerial statement from John Penrose MP, Minister with responsibility for Horseracing and Gambling, setting out new Government policy proposals to require overseas based betting operators to meet the same licensing requirements as those based in Britain. The Authority and wider Racing industry also calls upon him to expedite his proposals to reform the Levy so that payments are made to horseracing by operators regardless of where they are based.
The proposed licensing regime would form a vital part of the framework for a commercial reform or replacement of the Levy, as advocated by the whole Racing community, based on the right to offer bets on the sport to British punters.
This announcement followed a debate in Parliament on Wednesday night initiated by Newmarket MP Matthew Hancock (West Suffolk) with the title ‘Offshore Gambling and the Horseracing Levy’. During this debate Matt Hancock and other MPs including Claire Perry, George Freeman and Peter Aldous, spoke of the urgent need for Government action to reform the Levy and called upon the Minister to bring forward proposals by Racing for a commercial mechanism which would include overseas operators and ensure a level playing field.
Chris Brand, Acting Chief Executive of the Authority, said:
“Racing has long advocated that all betting operators taking bets in Britain should also be licensed in Britain. However, it is vital that these new licensing arrangements include a requirement for overseas operators to make contributions to the Horserace Betting Levy.
“The Government recently began consultations on replacing the current Levy mechanism. Any viable reform must, as a prerequisite, close this heavily exploited loophole.
“During the Parliamentary debate John Penrose said that the plans he is announcing today bring overseas operators into the British regulatory framework and ‘will open the door’ to the subsequent introduction of policy proposals DCMS is currently studying for the future of the Levy scheme.
“Racing is very grateful to Matt Hancock for once again championing the importance of the Levy by instigating a Parliamentary debate last night. Matt’s support, and that of many other MPs, for Racing’s proposals put to Government for the introduction of new arrangements for a commercial framework to be negotiated between Racing and Betting is heartening for all the industry who have united behind these proposals.
“We have brought together the whole of Racing and will continue to work with John Penrose, his officials and Parliamentarians to identify the most suitable new arrangements for the Levy and to pilot them through primary legislation as soon as possible.”
Speaking during the debate last night, Matthew Hancock MP said:
“I have spoken before in the Chamber about the need for a Racing Right, and I was delighted to see that that is one of the three proposals in the consultation put forward by the Minister. I urge him to push in that direction. Before he does so, however, it is critical that we solve the problem of offshore gambling.”
“The future of the Levy should be based on a commercial arrangement so that the Government do not have to constantly get involved, but that commercial arrangement must be based on the sale of a right to bet on a race. Otherwise, Racing will be putting on something for nothing, and the gambling industry will be making a profit – which I support – using the input from Racing for which it is not paying.”