UK Government to make Levy decision

November 2, 2010

Source BBC: Representatives from the UK racing and betting industries have failed to reach an agreement on the 50th Levy scheme by the 31 October deadline.

As a result the government will now make the decision on the matter.

For the past 50 years, the sport has been funded, in large part, by a levy – a tax – on bookmakers’ profits.

The subsidy’s level is decided between the two industries but the bookmakers offer is well below what the sport wants to secure its immediate future.

Levy Board chairman Paul Lee stated: “It is very disappointing that it has not proved possible to reach agreement.

“Despite protracted and in-depth discussion at board meetings and elsewhere, ultimately the positions of Racing and the Bookmakers’ Committee remained significantly apart.”

Will Roseff, chairman of the Bookmakers’ Committee, said: “I am very frustrated. The Bookmakers’ Committee constructed a very good argument which realistically addressed the challenges faced by bookmakers and Racing.

“That the HBLB has elected not to approve the recommendations of the Bookmakers’ Committee is further evidence that the current system has failed.

“It is now time to replace the Levy process with a commercial relationship that will reflect Racing’s true worth in the highly competitive bookmaking sector.

“I truly believe that Racing must face up to the reality that is affecting every other aspect of the British economic landscape.

“This failure brings more uncertainty to an industry that needs a period of stability to plan for a new commercial reality come what may, we will continue to seek to work with Racing to achieve a satisfactory long-term solution.”

The responsibility for the scheme, which runs from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012, will therefore be referred to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport for determination.

He has already said that this will be the last year that the government will be prepared to step in and sort out the issue.

Hunt said: “It’s a big disappointment that the racing and gambling industries have failed to sort this out – but frankly the government should never be the last resort in an essentially commercial negotiation.

The decision on the levy will be made by Hunt on the basis of advice from Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson. A timetable will be announced in due course.

Champion jump jockey Tony McCoy said last week that a total overhaul of horse racing is needed if the sport is to stem the decline in popularity.

“A lot needs to be done to improve the state of racing in this country,” he told BBC Radio Somerset.

“The bookmakers are probably taking more out of racing than they are putting in. Racing is a great sport but whether it is being marketed in the right way and everything is being done to make it the success that it can be, I’m not so sure.

“If you look at what Barry Hearn has done with darts and snooker, maybe we need someone like him in charge.”