British Gambling Industry Year in Review, Part One: Racing Gets a Boost, Splits from Football in 2017

From legal changes and a football fallout to a high stakes robbery involving a toy gun, the UK gambling industry faced many challenges in  2017.

Tracey Crouch racing levy

The racing industry received a boost in 2017, thanks to a new levy imposed by Sports Minister Tracey Crouch. (Image: skysports.com)

The year started well for the horseracing industry, but not so much for online operators, thanks to a government-backed funding scheme. Initially announced in January, the new 10 percent racing levy was finally given the green light by the European Commission in April.

New Levy Divides Opinion

Despite a long battle between operators and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the new tax was brought into effect and hailed as an “important day” by the BHA’s chief executive, Nick Rust. With the new rules in place, operators were required to pay 10 percent of their profits on all racing bets from UK customers above the first £500,000.

In response to the new levy, The Association of British Bookmakers said that it could have a negative “cumulative impact” on operators and would be considering a legal challenge.

However, as we head into 2018, the new rules are still in place and are helping to ensure the continued growth of the British racing industry.

Football’s Betting Fouls

Across the sporting divide, football and betting shared the headlines a variety of times throughout the year. Back in June, it looked as though the two industries wouldn’t have much interaction, thanks to a bold move by the Football Association (FA).

Following a number of incidents involving footballers, such as Joey Barton breaking the rules and betting on matches, the FA was forced to review its links with the industry. Citing a conflict of interest, the FA stated in June that it could no longer work with operators while its Code of Conduct stood against them.

As part of its break from the betting industry, the FA had to blow the whistle on its £4 million deal with Ladbrokes. Despite being just 12 months into a four-year partnership, the FA felt it could no longer meet its contractual obligations and ended the alliance.

While the FA was keen to distance itself from the UK betting industry, online operators were getting closer than ever before. Just a month after the FA split, Unibet announced a sponsorship deal with Aston Villa, while Betfair decided to cosy up with Serie A’s Juventus.

Let Him Eat Pie

To top things off, former Sutton United goalkeeper found himself in a hot mess after eating a pie during his team’s fifth round FA Cup tie against Arsenal. After learning that Sun Bets was offering odds of 8/1 that he’d eat a pie on camera during the game, Shaw obliged by tucking into his favourite pastry.

Although he considered it nothing more than a harmless stunt, the FA saw it as a breach of “integrity” under Rule E5. In the end, the comical incident left Shaw without a football club and Sun Bets’ licking its wounds after a dressing down from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

Finally, if Piegate raised a wry smile, the story of Islam Uddin and his Nerf Gun wasn’t so funny. Despite sounding like the plot from a comedy caper, Uddin’s robbery of betting shops owned by Paddy Power and Betfred using a toy gun left a number of employees in shock.

For his ill-conceived plan, Uddin was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbery with an imitation firearm.

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