UK-listed gambling operator Ladbrokes Coral has decided to voluntarily pay a levy on its international online betting turnover from UK greyhound racing.
UK retail betting operators already return 0.6% of their greyhound racing turnover to the British Greyhound Racing Fund. On Wednesday, Ladbrokes Coral announced its intention to voluntarily pay a levy on its “off shore greyhound turnover” once the calendar flips over to 2018.
Starting April 1, 2018, UK betting operators will be required to pay a uniform 10% levy on all revenue derived from the UK horseracing industry, following years of complaints by the British Horseracing Authority that the bookies’ online divisions weren’t paying their fair share to prop up the dying sport of kings. At the time, a Ladbrokes Coral spokesperson said horseracing was “in danger of pricing itself out of friends.”
But Ladbrokes Coral owns four UK greyhound tracks – Crayford, Hove, Monmore and Romford – so this willingness to pay higher greyhound betting rights fees is basically Ladbrokes Coral subsidizing its own operations, and likely hoping that the government will eventually require rival betting operators to kick in as well.
There’s no question that the greyhound industry is fading fast. The most recent UK Gambling Commission survey of gambling participation showed just 3% of UK adults placed a retail wager on the dogs versus 11% for the ponies. The amount returned to dog racing by bookmakers is believed to have halved in the past decade.
Ladbrokes Coral CEO Jim Mullen said the recently merged Ladbrokes and Gala Coral Group remain “passionate supporters of greyhound racing” and while “we have not always agreed that the sport is under-funded, we do recognize that it is time for the industry to move on and start to rebuild the sport.” Mullen hoped the extra funding can help build “a better sport and spectacle for the modern day customer.”