UK chancellor confirms racing right plans

By David Cook
British chancellor George Osborne has announced that the government is to introduce a 'racing right' for UK operators.

The right, known as a horserace betting authorisation, will be a charge that bookmakers will pay for the right to take bets on horseracing in the UK.

The new measures will replace the current horserace betting levy system that has been in place since the implementation of the Betting Levy Act of 1961, and requires bookmakers to pay at a rate of 10.75% on UK racing gross profits.

Osborne revealed the news of the introduction of the racing right at his Budget speech on Wednesday, six days after consultation on the right ended.

He said: "In the week after Cheltenham we will support the British racing industry by introducing a horserace betting right."

Under the current regulations, ministers step in when annual negotiations over the amount of the levy do not reach a conclusion.

Offshore bookmakers are not required to pay the levy, though they have offered to pay 10.75% for their offshore business, something which has not been accepted by the British Horseracing Authority.

A spokesperson for the Association of British Bookmakers said: "We note the announcement in today's budget on the racing right.

"Unfortunately, we believe the racing right is unworkable and the detail will derail it, leaving racing seriously underfunded for a considerable length of time.

"It will be mired in legal and other issues for many, many years.

"Arguably the proceeds from the right will not even be able to be distributed until legal certainty is obtained, with racing being the main loser.

"Our members already pay 10.75% of their gross profits from their UK horseracing business to racing and, together with media rights and sponsorship, the transfer from our members to racing is some £248m, an incredible amount that has to be enough.

"One has to ask where the £173m paid to racecourses for media rights goes.”

A consultation document on the issue considered implementing three rates of betting right, including the current rate of 10.75%, a central case of 30% and a high case of 50%.

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