Full statement on behalf of British racing regarding Government’s review of gambling

17 May 2018 BHA Features Financial/Political

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), on behalf of the British racing industry, welcomes the government’s determination to address the issues raised by problem gambling. We called for change during the consultation and we can see the government has acted decisively.

We are pleased that the consultation response recognises the special and longstanding relationship between the betting and horseracing industries.

The Secretary of State has written to the Chairman of the BHA, Steve Harman, this morning saying the government recognises today’s decision is not at all straightforward for the horseracing industry and wants to work closely to address the risks.

In particular, the Secretary of State says he has asked his officials to work with the BHA to look at how ‘a Levy on global racing bets placed in Britain could work’. The existing levy, which was reformed in April 2017, only covers bets placed on British racing. The BHA believes this extension could partially offset some of the potential reduction in income to racing that is likely to follow from today’s decision.

The letter, which we have published alongside this statement, also says that changes to the stake limits ‘will not be imminent’ and will allow ‘a period of transition’ which we believe will allow the gambling industry and horseracing time to adjust.

The BHA Chief Executive, Nick Rust, speaking on behalf of racing’s leaders, said today;

“British racing has a strong social conscience and we support measures announced by the Government today to reduce the harm caused by problem gambling. We are also an industry that generates significant employment, provides education and training and funds charitable work, particularly in rural areas.

“Throughout this consultation process, we have aimed to protect these valuable social contributions from any potential adverse impacts from wider policy changes. We are pleased that Government has acknowledged the reasonable arguments we have made in the consultation process that jobs and revenues in the racing industry should not be adversely affected by changes to wider gambling policy.

“It is too early to say what the financial impact for racing will be. Our estimates before today’s decision ranged from £40 to £60 million per year, once the impact of the changes has filtered through into racing. These estimates did not take into account the Secretary of State’s suggestion that the levy could be extended to bets on global racing which could partially offset any reduction. We are also encouraged by the Secretary of State’s reference to a period of transition which will allow time for racing and betting to adjust.

“British racing shares a unique interdependency with the betting industry and we recognise that this decision will affect jobs in the betting industry, with which we work closely in partnership. We want betting on horseracing – on the High Street, at racecourses and online – to continue to be accepted as legitimate and socially responsible. Recreational betting has been a part of racing for centuries and is an accepted entertainment pursuit during a day at the races or on the High Street.

“Our industry’s leaders – who have worked together throughout this consultation – will now work with the betting industry and Government as to how we can grow such legitimate, socially responsible betting activity on racing and take measures to address problem gambling wherever we can.”

The BHA’s Chairman, Steve Harman, said:

“We are grateful to the Secretary of State for his continued commitment to our industry. His letter today shows how he is planning to further support racing jobs, the rural economy and our future sustainability. We support his desire to reduce problem-gambling without harming Britain’s second-biggest spectator sport”.

Notes to Editors

1. The UK Government’s letter to Steve Harman confirming a review of the scope of the Horserace Betting Levy can be read here.

2. UK Government’s press release announcing the cut of maximum stake on FOBts to £2 can be found here.

3. Government’s response to the consultation can be found here

4. At the outset of the most recent consultation, Tracey Crouch MP (Minister for Sport and Civil Society) stated that horseracing “is an incredibly important sector in my portfolio” and that the Government had “no intention to damage the horseracing sector” in the consultation process.