Without Levy compromise, UK bookmakers may strike individual deals with tracks

TAGs: British Horseracing Association, horseracing levy

UK-Bookmakers-Deals-TracksThe fight between bookmakers and the British Horseracing Authority over the Levy is supposed to be reconciled by Oct. 31, but seems likely to require gov’t intervention to effect a resolution, as neither side appears all that eager to accommodate the other’s requests/demands/ultimatums.

Basically, the bookmakers position is that, while their Levy contribution may have fallen £40M in three years, they are now paying out £75M for TV broadcast rights and £30M more in direct sponsorships, so how about cutting them a break already? The books also want a three-year countdown to total Levy abolition, a window in which they expect the BHA to figure out a way of making the industry a little more self-sufficient.

The BHA’s position is that many of the bookmakers have been shifting their operations out of England to avoid paying the 10% tax on gross profits from horseracing into the Levy, while still enjoying the fruits of the horseracing industry’s labors. In that spirit, the BHA feels the books should quit their whingeing and pony up the dough as usual, or else they’ll make a move to introduce a ‘betting right’ fee (the BHA’s ‘nuclear option’).

But the books may now be attempting a sort of ‘end around’ move by proposing to strike deals with individual tracks and races, an arrangement that has long been the norm at the greyhound tracks, but which the horsey set would presumably view as their sport having ‘gone to the dogs’. Still, it would beat turning the tracks into drive-in theaters, wouldn’t it?


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