Government to examine reform of the Horserace Betting Levy in 2021

08 Dec 2020 BHA Features Financial/Political

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) welcomes the announcement from the Sports Minister that the government is to look again at the timetable for reviewing the Horserace Betting Levy. The Levy is not due for review until 2024 under legislation passed three years ago. However, the racing industry’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan, published in August, called for an urgent review as part a wider initiative to restore industry finances. The plan highlights changes in the betting market and the sport’s need to remain competitive with other racing nations.

The BHA’s Chair and Chief Executive, Annamarie Phelps and Nick Rust, met subsequently with the Sports Minister in September and discussed a submission on Levy reform made in 2019. They raised directly with him the case for re-examining the Levy, which returns to the sport 10% of the profits on racing made by betting companies. MPs with racing interests in their constituencies were engaged by the BHA and made their own representations direct to the Minister.

The Chief Executive of the BHA, Nick Rust, said:

“We welcome the announcement from the Minister that DCMS will examine in 2021 the timetable for reviewing the Levy. Racing industry leaders agreed that there was an urgent case for reform as part of our plans to recover from COVID-19 and have presented a united front to government. As the Minister outlined in the House today, there are ongoing conversations between the BHA and government on Levy reform. We look forward to working with DCMS officials and ministers in 2021 to ensure that the Levy is sustainable and fit for the digital age.”

The BHA also welcomes today’s publication of the terms of the gambling review and agrees with the objectives of protecting vulnerable individuals from gambling-related harm. It accepts the need to ensure that gambling legislation is modernised for the digital age while reflecting the significant economic contribution that gambling and associated industries make to the UK.

Nick Rust said

“Betting on horseracing is enjoyed by millions of people safely and responsibly, with a low prevalence for gambling related harm. Despite the low levels of problem gambling in the sport, racing promotes responsible gambling and is committed to working with the betting industry to further reduce risk. We will also work closely with our partners in the betting and racing industry to formulate our response to the consultation.

“We are pleased to hear that the review will be evidence-based and we look forward to proposals that are proportionate and focused on those at risk. We know the government is aware of the potential impact on related industries such as British racing and the 80,000 livelihoods it supports. The Minister, Nigel Huddleston, made clear in his address that the challenging conditions that sports find themselves in, and the importance of legitimate commercial relationships between sport and gambling, will be considered as part of the review

“Racing and betting’s unique, interdependent relationship has been recognised by government in many ways, including through the Horserace Betting Levy. British racing has laid the groundwork for the gambling consultation with an industry group meeting for several months. Detailed submissions and representations were also made to the recent Lords Special Inquiry, which highlighted the ‘special position’ of racing and betting.”

Notes to Editors

1. In January 2017 the UK Government announced reforms to the Horserace Betting Levy. This announcement confirmed that the next review was scheduled for seven years after the legislation came into force, therefore April 2024.