In the run up to the Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup Day, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has welcomed a Government decision to reform the Horserace Betting Levy. The move will help secure the future of horseracing and ensure a fair return to the sport from gambling operators.
Under the new scheme, all gambling business that takes bets from consumers based in Britain on races held in this country will pay 10 per cent of their gross profits from racing, above the first £500,000 they make, to support the sport and the equine industry.
The levy will support funding for a range of areas including prize money, integrity, equine welfare, veterinary science and the mental and physical wellbeing of participants.
Alex Chalk write to the Sports Minister last year calling for the Government to “close an offshore loophole“; and take action to introduce a “level playing field” which would “safeguard the future of the UK’s second largest sport”.
Mr Chalk explained:
“Betting Levy funding has fallen from £100 million in 2007 to £54 million per annum in 2016. This is a cause for concern. Returns to British racing’s grassroots are the lowest of any major racing nation. This figure must be restored in order to keep the sport on a sustainable footing and attract ongoing further investment. It may be noted even a figure of £100m would leave UK racing lagging significantly behind their equivalents in other countries.
“It seems unfair that bets placed over-the-counter are subject to the Levy, yet the growing online betting market (comprising some 60% of bets placed in the UK) makes no such contribution. It is clear that the racing industry, and associated equestrian trade, is suffering as a result of this offshore loophole.
“Many businesses in Cheltenham benefit greatly from racing at our iconic venue. The principal four-day Festival Meeting in March brings in excess of £100 million to the local economy. A thriving and vibrant racing sector is crucial to the economy here in Cheltenham.
“I’m delighted that the Minister has listened to our concerns and has agreed to make these changes. It ensure a level playing field amongst gambling operators that are based in Britain and those that are offshore. This vital reform will help to safeguard the future of the UK’s second largest sport and provide a sustainable platform for the future of this major employer and income generator here in Cheltenham.”
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said:
“This move will help secure the future of horseracing in Britain by making sure that gambling firms pay a fair return to support the sport. Horseracing has a strong heritage in this country, employing thousands of people and is enjoyed by many almost every day of the year. This new approach to the Horserace Betting Levy will help sustain and develop the sport.”