Betfair Claims Its Role to Be Crucial for Horseracing Levy Agreement


Did Betfair's GBP 6.5 million donation seal the deal?

Immediately after the announcement that UK bookies and the horseracing industry have reached an agreement on this year's racing levy, Betfair was quick to claim the credit for the deal, stating that its GBP 6.5 million voluntary donation did the trick, and calling on fellow offshore operators to follow its example.

On Nov. 1, Betfair issued a press statement, stating: "With the GBP 45 million guarantee from the licensed betting offices of the big three bookmakers and the donation of GBP 6.5million from Betfair, this year's scheme in all likelihood will yield GBP 72.4 million, possibly more.

"An agreement such as this would not have been possible without Betfair's donation, increased by GBP 500,000 from the 50th Scheme, an amount equal to the sum Betfair would have had to pay if it conducted its business under a UK licence."

In addition, Betfair legal executive Martin Cruddace stated that only three representatives of Racing, led by Paul Roy, voted against the proposal, but that such a move did not prevent him from sending a real shift in the willingness of the Bookmaking industry to work constructively with Racing.

According to him, this was proved by guarantee of the traditional bookmakers and his company's substantial contribution of GBP 6.5million. He added: 'In order to properly demonstrate this new desire to co-operate, it is imperative that all off-shore bookmakers make proper donations to the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) in respect of levy they would otherwise have to pay, if on-shore. If other off-shore operators followed suit the GBP 72.4 million becomes circa GBP 90 million.

'It therefore is of grave concern that Mr Roy remains committed, with the help of his new BFF, Ralph Topping, to risking upwards of GBP 3 million of prize money in hopelessly futile litigation against the HBLB in respect of the HBLB's detailed and thorough consultation on the customers of [betting] exchanges.

'On a positive note, perhaps Mr Roy can persuade Mr Topping over the candlelit dinners that will inevitably follow, as they discuss their litigation, that as the boss of the largest non-levy paying Bookmaker (William Hill.com) Mr Topping should pay the millions he is saving in the levy to horseracing, thereby following Betfair's lead.

'Perhaps other operators will then follow suit whereby negotiations on the commercial replacement of the levy can take place against a much more secure and positive backdrop'.

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