EU Green Lights New UK Horseracing Betting Levy

The UK horseracing industry changed for good on April 25, 2017, after the European Commission endorsed the government’s proposed 10 percent levy.

Tracey Crouch British racing betting levy.

British racing is set to receive a huge financial boost after Tracey Crouch’s new levy comes into force. (Image: Cardiac Risk in the Young)

Back in January 2017, Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP announced the government’s long awaited funding plan for the UK horseracing industry.

After reviewing the old system through which offshore operators weren’t required to contribute to the industry, the government decided to shake things up.

Months of planning, discussions and disputes with betting operators ensued before a final proposal was submitted to the European Commission for approval in late 2016.

That approval was finally granted in mid-April this year and, subsequently, paved the way for Crouch to enact the new levy on April 25.

Following the news, Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, called it an “important day” for the sport and said it would ensure the “long term health” and growth of racing.

A New Era For British Horse Racing

Under the terms of the new levy, all operators must pay 10 percent of their profits from UK customers above £500,000 to the racing authority. Regardless of whether these profits are made inside a racecourse, at a high street betting shop, online or offshore, every operator with a stake in the British betting market will have to pay.

Ever since this issue came to light, The Association of British Bookmakers has suggested that it could have a negative impact on operators. The organisation represents many of the leading bookmakers and has said it could have a “cumulative impact” on media right, tax and regulation.

Although a legal challenge hasn’t been announced, two or more operators could challenge the levy at the European Court of Justice.

This won’t stop it from taking effect, but a successful legal challenge could reverse the decision and force the racing authority to pay back any money taken from operators.

For now, however, all operators accepting racing bets from UK patrons will be subject to the new charges.

General Election Hits the Betting Industry

In other UK betting news this week, the general election has caused a few rumblings across the industry. On a legislative level, the snap election has prompted the CEO of the British Amusement Catering Trade Association (BACTA), John White, to say the review on fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) may be delayed.

Although he added that reviewing the current betting limits (currently a £100 maximum) was still a priority, he admitted it may have to wait until after the election on June 8.

While proposals to lower the maximum bet of £2 are still a source of debate among politicians and betting operators, it seems the issue won’t be resolved in 2017.

With everything virtually on hold until the election and then more pressing issues facing the government following the public vote, it’s unlikely there will be a big push to change the law this year.

While FOBTs may be spared time in the spotlight ahead of the election, the country’s top political figures are now firmly in it. With the candidates out on the campaign trail, betting operators across the country are compiling odds for on the final outcomes.

Betfair was one of the first out of the gate with current Prime Minister and Conservative candidate Theresa May leading the betting.

At the time of writing, May was the favourite at 1/11 on the site’s exchange, while Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn was second at 10/1 and the Liberal Democrat’s Tim Farron out at 84/1.

The odds are expected to change ahead of the June 8 showdown, but it this stage it’s May with the odds on her side.

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