Central funding of British racing moves into new era as replacement Levy comes into force on 25 April 2017

24 Apr 2017 Financial/Political

British racing today hailed an important milestone as the Levy Board announced that new legislation will take effect from 25 April 2017 to capture a return from all betting operators accepting bets on the sport by British bettors. This is one of a number of key enablers required to ensure the long term-health and growth of the country’s second biggest spectator sport which supports more than 85,000 jobs.

From 25 April 2017, all betting operators – whether they operate on or off-course, on or offline or on or offshore – will pay 10 per cent of their profits from British customers to British racing. The changes mean that the Levy will now capture online betting which is estimated to account for more than 50 per cent of all betting activity on the sport.

The increased receipts from the Levy will ensure that the central funding which is crucial to the sport will continue to support:

  • Racing’s grassroots – improving prize money for participants to allow them to maintain their involvement in the sport, keep horses in training and improve the racing product
  • Jobs – help recruitment, retention and growth of jobs in racing and in the rural economy
  • Small businesses – by supporting the growth of the sport, help the future of small businesses such as farriers, vets, feed and equipment suppliers and many others
  • High standards of integrity in British racing – including anti-doping and anti-corruption measures
  • Participant welfare and training – including initiatives to support the mental and physical wellbeing of participants, and education and training opportunities for young people to become involved in the sport
  • The wider British horse sector – through veterinary science research and education funding, disease surveillance, and support for rare breeds societies

Parliamentarians in both the House of Commons and House of Lords overwhelmingly backed the new legislation at the end of last month with Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Tracey Crouch MP saying that the legislation would “make a profound difference to the British racing industry and to the thousands of hard-working stable staff, jockeys and trainers and all those who make racing what it is today” while ensuring that British racing “can continue to be the home of the best quality racing in the world for years to come.”

In its clearance of the legislation last week as being compatible with state aid rules, the European Commission recognised “that it is essential for the improvement of horse breeding and horseracing without giving rise to undue distortions of competition” while creating “a level playing field among betting operators.”

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said:

“Today is a very important day for British racing as the new Levy will make a significant contribution to securing the long term health and growth of our sport. While there remains much more to do in this regard, the levy replacement in itself is a huge achievement, and one that could not have been achieved without the determination and leadership demonstrated by Tracey Crouch MP and her team of dedicated officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Everyone in British racing owes thanks to her, and to the many supporters of our sport across and outside Westminster. We will be issuing further thanks to a number of key individuals over coming days.

“The new Levy is the clearest sign yet of the success which British racing can achieve when we work together. I would like to thank everyone in British racing who has helped deliver this, and to say a specific thank you to my Chairman, Steve Harman, who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes in representing our sport so effectively on this issue which is one of the sport’s key enablers for growth.

“British racing is keen to move forward with the betting industry to ensure that the sport enhances its position as a high-quality, attractive betting product.”

Philip Freedman, Chairman of the Horsemen’s Group, said:

“This is fantastic for all involved in British racing and beyond any doubt a massive boost for our horsemen. The reformed Levy will improve owners’ returns and investment, enhance breeders’ confidence to invest in bloodstock, and improve prize money for trainers, jockeys and stable staff to help them sustain a living in the sport, following many years of downward pressure.

“The wider horse sector across Britain will also benefit from the increased activity a thriving horseracing industry will bring to the rural economy.”

Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association, said:

“British racecourses are delighted with the completion of this much-required extension of the Levy and the improvement it will bring to the funding of British racing from betting activity. Racecourses make a significant contribution to the economy as employers and visitor attractions across the country, and communities the length and breadth of Great Britain will be key beneficiaries of thriving racecourses supported by crucial Levy funding.

“A key partner moving forward will undoubtedly be the betting industry and all parties in British racing are committed to working with betting to ensure that we can provide a popular, well-regulated and socially responsible product across our 60 racecourses.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Horserace Betting Levy Board’s announcement confirming that the Horserace Betting Levy Regulations 2017 will come into force on 25th April 2017 can be found here.
  2. The full text of the House of Commons and House of Lords debates on the Horserace Betting Levy Regulations 2017, which received cross-party support, can be read here and here.
  3. The European Commission press release can be read here, alongside British racing’s statement welcoming clearance here.
  4. The Horserace Betting Levy was introduced in 1961 and is paid by bookmakers for the purposes of aiding the horseracing and equine sector, recognising the mutual interest racing and betting share in a thriving racing industry. The rapid growth of online betting activity, much of which is located offshore, has seen the Levy yield decline from over £100 million annually in the last decade to less than £50 million
  5. Wider changes to the Horserace Betting Levy, including the replacement of the Horserace Betting Levy Board with a new, tripartite Racing Authority to distribute funds, will be implemented in due course.
  6. The Authorised Betting Partners (ABP) scheme will cease operation from the commencement date of the new Levy, as all betting operators will be paying Levy on a statutory basis. British racing is extremely grateful to ABPs for their contributions to the funding of British racing in the interim period over the last 18 months, recognising the two industries’ mutual interest in a sustainably funded horseracing product.