International edition
September 17, 2021

To solve funding crisis

British racing industry calls for commercial 'right-to-bet'

(UK).- The British Horseracing Authority and other racing groups insist that the sport faces a funding crisis as a result of declining Levy returns, forecast to reach just US$ 90 million this year, US$ 32 million below the target set by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

R

acing believes that the sale of legally enforceable rights to run markets on all licensed racing could generate as much as US$ 161 million, restoring income to the level produced by the Levy in recent years.

The industry maintains that the rush offshore by major bookmakers, including William Hill and Victor Chandler, where online and telephone business does not attract Levy payments, is largely responsible for the decline.

They believe it could be reversed by a commercial arrangement that would require all operators offering markets on UK racing to purchase the right to bet.

"We are absolutely not afraid of testing the strength of our sport in a proper commercial market," said Chris Brand, acting chief executive of the BHA.

"The bookmakers have said that they would like a proper commercial relationship and we would like to see the whites of their eyes across a negotiating table, because we believe that the market will bear us out."

Racing's plan would see racecourses negotiating with bookmakers, perhaps on a rate-card basis, with the industry keen for three or five-year deals to replace the annual negotiation over the Levy.

The right-to-bet would require primary legislation to declare racing's fixtures intellectual property. The sport would also like to see the arrangement underpinned by making it a condition of bookmakers' licences that they reach a commercial arrangement with racing.

The Association of British Bookmakers rejected racing's case.

"Our industry has not yet seen the full detail of racing's proposal, but we can say with certainly that a betting right for the sport is entirely unwarranted," said chief executive Dirk Vennix.

"Such a move would hand the horseracing industry a state-sponsored monopoly to add to its existing media-rights monopolies. This is undesirable in a free-market economy and will remove any incentive for the sport to meet the commercial needs of its largest customer."

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