Tuesday, November 1, 2011 : Negotiating parties want to avoid government intervention
The always controversial annual level of contribution to the British horseracing industry by UK bookies was again in the spotlight Monday as negotiators tried to avoid government involvement by reaching an agreement on this year's subsidy.
Just ahead of the Monday midnight deadline, Jockey Club CEO Simon Bazalgette told delegates at a sport business conference that a deal could be close, spurred by both the racing and bookmaking industries wanting to avoid a repeat of the UK government having to step in as was the case last year when the two sides hit a deadlock.
Major bookmaker Ladbrokes also said it was hopeful a deal could be struck.
"We are hopeful that an agreement will be reached without recourse to the minister. The gap between the two sides is not as sizeable as in previous years," a Ladbrokes spokesman told the Reuters news agency.
The overall amount paid to racing has fallen significantly in recent years because of bookmakers moving their online operations offshore and, therefore, avoiding having to pay the levy on bets placed on British races.
Gambling companies, on the other hand, have argued they now fund racing through additional channels, including paying for television pictures and sponsorship deals.
Last year, the government instructed bookmakers to pay 10.75 percent of their gross profits to racing, up from the usual 10 percent.
The government is consulting with both sides over establishing a viable alternative to the levy for future years, Reuters reports.