New Row about British Horseracing Levy

BHA and William Hill team up

The question whether online betting exchanges should be required to make contributions to the Levy Board, which subsidises British horseracing or not has been a cause of severe debate in the UK betting industry for a while now, and despite a number of proposed solutions, it remains unresolved.

This week, the levy pandemonium continued, as reports came that despite the previous announcements of the Levy Board that it will not pursue some users of betting exchanges - i.e. Betfair - for levy payments, the British Horseracing Authority and Betfair's rival gambling group William Hill plc have teamed up in the intention to subject this decision to a judicial review by taking the Levy Board to court.

According to The Guardian, which reported the news, "There is no prospect of success for the British Horseracing Authority as it seeks a judicial review of how the Levy Board handles betting exchanges.

"The eventual outcome can scarcely be in doubt. The Levy Board's advisers, Michael Fordham QC and Lord Pannick QC, are the top people in the field. The chance that the BHA/bookie team will find a judge prepared to disagree with them is as remote as the offshore servers that Hill's exploit in order to dodge their own levy obligations.

"Yet still Paul Roy, the BHA chairman, and Ralph Topping, the bellicose chief executive of William Hill, seem intent on pressing on. It is at once fascinating, baffling, stupid and pointless."

"It will be recalled that Roy's private equity business, Smith New Court, spent millions of pounds buying Betfair shares when the company floated last year. This was deeply unfortunate on two levels, first because it made Roy look like a hypocrite, given his frequent criticism of exchanges, and second because, at the time of writing, Smith New Court's investment - which apparently has not been sold - has halved in value," the newspaper opines.

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