British Horseracing today launched a campaign calling on the Government and the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) to secure a fair return from the betting industry, after an unacceptable fall in the funding of the sport.
The Racing United: Campaign for a Fair Levy is based around a new Charter urging the closure of clear loopholes that exist in the current Levy system, which have allowed funding for British Horseracing to drop by more than a third in two years from £115m in 2008 to just £75m in 2010.
While continuing to enjoy gross wins of £1bn a year just from taking bets on British Racing, bookmakers are increasingly basing their online and telephone businesses offshore to avoid paying the Levy, in addition to exploiting threshold rules originally set up to exempt only small independent high street bookmakers.
Betting exchanges, which did not exist when the Levy was introduced, are also not providing British Racing with a fair return. Furthermore, no Levy is received from bets being placed in Britain on overseas racing, despite this being standard in several other parts of the world.
The Racing United Charter addresses such issues with the current system, while also making clear that if the vital modernisation does not take place, the whole sport is committed to the creation of a modern market in which betting operators wanting to offer a bet must enter into enforceable contracts to do so.
The Charter has been launched jointly by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), and the Racecourse Association (RCA) and The Horsemen’s Group, which represent jointly the trade associations of racecourses, breeders, jockeys, stable staff, owners and trainers involved in British Racing. It is available for signing at a dedicated website, www.racingunited.co.uk.
Despite the bookmakers’ claims, it is clear that the overall funding from betting to Racing has dropped considerably. The revenues British Racing makes from media rights – which have always existed separately from the Levy – fall a long way short of offsetting the sharp drop in Levy funding.
Two years ago, British Racing received £153m (2007/8) from Levy payments and media rights income. Today that combined amount has fallen by £22m (£131m 2009/10). This decline is also set against an expanded Fixture List, from 1,342 in 2007 to 1,420 in 2009.
Nic Coward, Chief Executive of the BHA, said:
“The launch of this public campaign is the latest step in pressing home Racing’s case, a comprehensive case that is built on rigorous analysis, and which we have been advocating on behalf of the sport. Our objective is to secure what is right for the future of the whole sport, and the campaign is intended to leave no-one in any doubt as to the strength of support for it across the whole of Racing and its followers.”
Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association, said:
“British Horseracing generates substantial profits for the betting industry and taxes for Government. It is a world leader and racecourses, training and breeding establishments form a vital part of many communities. The Levy, in its current form, is failing to deliver a fair return to horseracing because it has not kept pace with the modern betting market. It can and must be fixed. We join together with our fellow stakeholders in the sport in calling the Government and the Levy Board to act now to right this wrong.”
Alan Morcombe, Chief Executive of the Horsemen’s Group, said:
“Today’s launch marks British Horseracing’s determination to ensure that, through the 50th Levy scheme, bookmakers make an appropriate contribution to the sport which underpins their profits. For most people, the importance of the Levy is symbolised by each raceday, but it has a far reaching but all too often hidden impact too. A proper return from betting through the Levy is critical in securing the future of the thousands of people employed in communities up and down the country who make British racing a truly world class product.”
To view the Charter, click here.