What the Budget Means for Racing - 2014
British Racing received a major boost in Chancellor George Osborne’s 2014 Budget Statement, with significant commitments from the Government for long overdue and fundamental reforms to the financing of the sport.
The Chancellor’s Budget Statement followed a debate on the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill in the House of Lords. The upper house unanimously adopted a Government Amendment allowing it to consult on the extension of the Horserace Betting Levy to offshore based remote betting operators under a Point of Consumption Licensing regime. This will close a loophole costing the industry over £20m annually in lost levy receipts and level the playing field between operators which contribute to the financing of the sport and those which do not.
Later in 2014 the government will go further and consult on wider levy reforms. This consultation will seek views on a range of options which are likely to include developing commercial arrangements, modernising the existing levy and a horserace betting right. The introduction of a ‘racing right’, under which bookmakers would have to pay for the right to bet on horseracing, was initially proposed as an alternative to the current levy system by Matt Hancock MP, whose West Suffolk constituency includes Newmarket.
Paul Bittar, Chief Executive of the BHA, said: “The announcement by the Chancellor represents a major milestone in our efforts to secure the future finances of our industry. For too long we have sought a funding mechanism which reflects the nature of the modern Racing and Betting industries. This commitment brings us considerably closer to achieving this goal, and securing the future prosperity of one of the country’s leading sports, and a major employer. We look forward to engaging positively in both consultation processes, on Levy extension to offshore operators and wider Levy reform or replacement, in the coming months.”