The British Racing industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement in Parliament that it will fast-track a replacement for the Horserace Betting Levy (HBLB) for introduction by April 2017. The scheme will replace the current Levy system, which was first introduced in 1961, and close the significant loophole which has allowed some operators to avoid making any contribution to the sport from the increasing amount of remote and offshore betting.
One of the HBLB’s current statutory functions is to apply Levy income for purposes conducive to the advancement or encouragement of veterinary science or veterinary education.
The new funding mechanism, which the Government aims to introduce by April 2017, will ensure that all bets placed on British Racing by a British-based customer will now fall under its scope, whether they are placed in a retail betting shop or remotely, ensuring a fair return to the sport.
It will restore to Racing a fair contribution from all betting operators that has been lost as a result of the shift towards remote and offshore betting.
While this is very welcome news, in the short term, British Racing still faces the prospect of shortfalls in funding before the new arrangements take effect, with further potential leakage in the Levy this year. As a result, Racing is committed to building on its ABP initiative to smooth the transition to the new funding model and to maintain the current level of Levy funding.
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), said: “Today’s [2nd March 2016] announcement is one that should prove truly historic. The new funding model will ensure a fair transfer of funding to British Racing based on all betting activity on the sport – a link that was first established in law in 1961. It meets all of Racing’s requirements for a new funding model and can bear fruit in 2017, which is crucial given the significant Levy cliff we face.
“In the longer term, this means greater financial security for the sport, a platform for growth, a huge boost to our participants and more certainty for the tens of thousands of people who rely on Racing for their livelihoods.
“We look forward to working with Government on the details of these proposals and to make sure the implementation timetable they have announced today is achieved.
"We now have a great opportunity to bring together Racing and Betting in tackling the sport's funding issues for the benefit of all parties, and this is something that we are actively pursuing. We want to focus the joint efforts of Racing and Betting on innovation and growth in the sport as a betting product."
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