The UK Government will look into the timetable for reviewing the Horserace Betting Levy, and the news has been welcoming by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). Not due for a review until 2024 under the current legislation, the Horserace Betting Levy is now on the table for next year. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the funding issues of the industry, and the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, published in August, called for an urgent review as part of a wider initiative to restore industry finances. After the review was published, the BHA Chair and Chief Executive Annamarie Phelps and Nick Rust, respectively, met with the Sports Minister in September, where the issue of re-examining the Levy was raised. The Levy returns 10% of the profits on racing made by betting companies to the sport. The BHA also engaged MPs with racing interests in their constituencies, who made their own representations to the Sports Minister.
“We welcome the announcement from the Minister that DCMS will examine in 2021 the timetable for reviewing the Levy,” said BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust. “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.”
Also on Tuesday, the UK Government has launched a major and wide-ranging review of gambling laws, which the BHA also welcomes. They agree with the objectives of protecting vulnerable individuals from gambling-related harm, as well as accepting 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.
Rust added, “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.”