UK government to determine racing levy scheme as stakeholder talks break down

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The UK racing levy will be referred to the UK government, as talks between the Horseracing Betting Levy Board and Bookmakers’ Committee have broken down as negotiating parties could not agree on the key terms for the funding 55th levy scheme.

The breakdown in talks will see the scheme referred to John Whittingdale Minister of Culture, Media and Sport to determine terms which are due to take effect from 1 April 2016.

The Levy Board which represents British Horseracing Authority, the Racecourse Association and the Horsemen’s Group issued a statement confirming that levy talks had not progressed.

“This is a matter of deep regret for racing, whose representatives have worked hard and in a completely united manner for a number of months to reach an arrangement with the betting industry on an appropriate contribution from the digital betting market, which currently costs the sport around £30million a year owing to the long-standing deficiencies in our central funding mechanism”.

“The proposals were rejected because they would see such crucial income to the sport continuing to decline from an already challengingly low level, despite racing continuing to provide and represent an important seven-day-a-week betting product.”

Bookmakers’ Committee chairman Mike O’Kane responded to the statement  made by UK racing:

“I am very frustrated. The Bookmakers’ Committee constructed a very good argument which realistically addressed the challenges faced by bookmakers and racing.

“I truly believe that racing must face-up to the reality that its combined revenue receipts from statutory levy, media rights and sponsorship – which are all sourced from bookmakers – continues to increase year on year and yet it still wants substantial increases from the levy.

“This failure brings more uncertainty when both racing and bookmaking would benefit from a period of stability. The committee shall now concentrate its efforts to support the secretary of state as he prepares to make his determination.”

“The formal levy process and the discussions with a number of digital betting operators were this year interlinked, with the sport’s representatives having to take a view on what the combined offer would mean for Levy Board income in the coming years.

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