Thursday, March 3, 2016 : WILL U.K. GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCE NEW RACING RIGHTS LAW TODAY?
Reports that controversial racing levy could be replaced, with higher costs for online operators.
The usually reliable UK newspaper The Telegraph caused some alarm in online bookmaker circles Wednesday when it claimed that the UK government is about to announce the replacement of the voluntary racing levy with a new compulsory system which will add more costs to an industry already bruised by the imposition of the p.o.c. and higher FOBT taxes.
"The Government will tomorrow say it will replace the controversial horseracing levy with a new “racing right” next April," the newspaper reported.
The present levy, which has been in place for 55 years, requires that UK bookies pay a 10.75 percent contribution to the horse racing industry based on gross profits generated from racing wagers placed in British betting shops.
However, it does not in general at present capture income from wagers made online through British bookmaking websites, often based offshore.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) estimated those revenues could give it an additional GBP 30 million a year, noting the increasing use of the online environment by horse racing punters.
The Telegraph claims that the UK government will unveil Thursday its plans to axe the levy in 2017, and confirm that a new racing right will apply to bookies’ offshore businesses.
A year ago the UK Chancellor, George Osborne, indicated that he was ready to implement a racing right to resolve repeated disputes over the racing levy, and it appears that his preparations are now ready for implementation.
That could be bad news for gambling companies already feeling the pinch of new taxes and restrictions on online gambling and fixed odds betting terminals in retail betting shops.
It is unlikely to improve relationships between bookmaking firms and the British Horse Racing Authority either – the BHA's recent imposition of conditional advertising and sponsorships through its Authorised Betting Partner restrictions have not gone down well with some of the major gambling groups
Any new law will have to satisfy not only British parliamentarians, but the European Union legal authorities as well that the compulsory contributions flowing from a horse racing betting right do not constitute "state aid," a possible avenue of protest by gambling companies if a betting right law is introduced.