Horseracing Levy Scheme Reaches Dead-End

Secretary of State to intervene and set 50th Levy scheme

Since horseracing sector and bookmakers did not manage to meet the deadline and close an agreement by the end of Oct. 31, 2010, the government had to step in and appoint Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt to determine the 50th Levy scheme, which will enter into force on April 1, 2011 and expire on March 31, 2012.

There are two major income sources for British racecourses - on one side, there are live broadcast rights, sold by the courses to bookmakers for GBP75 million, and on the other side is Levy money, as 10 percent of bookmakers' annual forecast profits is paid in advance to the Horserace Betting Levy Board, which distributes it around courses. Yet, this betting area has experienced a tremendous drop in the past three years, with big bookmakers like Ladbrokes and William Hill moving offshore to reduce taxation, and with bettors' increased interest in other types of betting, such as football, golf and tennis. Racing now takes up 40 percent of bookmaker's operations, which is two times lower than it used to be.

The horseracing industry is requesting in the region of GBP 140 million from the bookmaking industry, claiming that offshore companies betting on UK horseracing ought to pay the Levy as well, adding that some betting exchanges users should pay a higher contribution to the Levy as their betting businesses are operated via exchanges.

A member of the Association of British Bookmakers Tom Kenny on this occasion stated: "The reason the Levy has declined is that horse-race betting has declined. Secondly, the payments bookmakers pay for media rights have ballooned to a degree that more than offsets lack of income from the Levy.'

On this standstill, the Levy Board Chairman Paul Lee commented: "It is very disappointing that it has not proved possible to reach agreement on the 50th scheme."

Taking this whole situation into consideration, Hunt may face hard time if he tries to satisfy both sides.

General Sportsbook News

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