BHA welcomes government move on levy reform

BHA welcomes government move on levy reform

The British Horseracing Authority has welcomed the decision to bring forward a review of the levy paid by betting operators.

UK.- The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has welcomed the decision announced by UK Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston to bring forward a review of the betting levy to next year.

A review was originally slated for 2024, but the BHA has been calling for more urgent reform of the levy paid by betting operators due to the financial impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the horseracing sector.

The BHA included reform of the levy as one of its main objectives in its Covid-19 Recovery Plan announced earlier in the year.

In October, the BHA, the Jockey Club and the Horsemen’s Group launched a Levy Steering Group that aimed to define a single set of proposals to bring to the government.

The group is considering calls for stakeholders to receive a greater return from bets placed on international racing “to level the playing field with other European racing nations after Brexit”.

Other proposals include changing to a system based on turnover instead of gross profits, which could bring in tens of millions of pounds more in income.

The levy represents a significant source of income for the horseracing sector, currently returning 10 per cent of the profits made by betting operators to stakeholders in the sport.

Its beneficiaries include racecourses, whose incomes have been devastated due to the prohibition of spectators at races since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March. Racecourses normally received 50 per cent of their income from spectators.

The levy was last revised in 2017, resulting in yields of up to £45m more than it would have generated before the reforms.

BHA independent director Joe Saumarez-Smith, chair of the Levy Steering Group, said: “The group will carry out a rapid assessment of Levy options as the government considers how best to help sports threatened by a further six months without spectators.”

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said: “We welcome the announcement from the Minister that the DCMS will examine in 2021 the timetable for reviewing the Levy.

“Racing industry leaders agreed that there was an urgent case for reform as part of our plans to recover from COVID-19 and have presented a united front to the government.

“As the Minister outlined in the House, there are ongoing conversations between the BHA and government on Levy reform. We look forward to working with DCMS officials and ministers in 2021 to ensure that the Levy is sustainable and fit for the digital age.”

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