Michael Howard, the much loathed former Conservative party head (and now somewhat less loathed chairman of Northern Racing), thinks the current Tory leadership should compel ‘offshore’ bookmakers to contribute to the UK’s horse racing levy. The ongoing war of words (and numbers) between bookmakers and the British Horseracing Authority has turned increasingly nasty without any sign that the two parties are getting any closer to a resolution. As it stands, the BHA are thinking high (£100M), the books are thinking low (£50M), and Betfair is thinking of leaving the country.
Seemingly unaware that many bookmakers no longer view racing as a make or break slice of their business, Lord Howard has proposed a rather risky bit of brinksmanship. Howard believes the government should threaten to impose an advertising ban on bookmakers who fail to ante up. This would prevent them from sponsoring many prominent racing events, which would definitely lower the books’ profiles in the eyes of racing fans, but it might also prove devastating to the already cash-poor racing industry.
But Howie doesn’t think things would get that far, convinced that the books would accept that ‘the game was up’. And he is a Lord, after all. We hear they’re infallible.