Bookmakers call for abolition of levy

British bookmakers have proposed that the horseracing levy be scrapped and replaced with a new commercial agreement.

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) want the 50-year system abolished by 2014, with a non-statutory alternative based on the fixture list installed in its place. The ABB want more influence on the list as part of their plans to create stronger race meetings, a move they say would be beneficial to both racing and betting.

The ABB have suggested that the two sides be given three years to agree and implement a long-term deal, adding that the government would need to take steps to aid the process, for example by continuing betting's exemption from VAT. These points have been detailed to a government pre-consultation.

ABB chief executive Dirk Vennix said of the proposals: "It is high time to jettison the anachronistic levy, which is way past its sell-by date. It should go by 2014.

"We have to redefine the relationship between horseracing and bookmakers for the better, with a modern commercial arrangement fit for the 21st Century. We agree with horseracing that new commercial agreements should be to the mutual benefit of both parties.

"Horseracing has stated they want to enter into direct commercial negotiations with the betting industry which should result in fair and enforceable payments.

"We agree with this in principle and would welcome a constructive meeting with horseracing, facilitated by Government, to discuss how a commercial framework could work in 2014."

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