A report in the Racing Post suggests that The Horseracing Levy board is set for another stay of execution and will continue operating until the end of 2017. The body had been expected to shut down when the government’s planned replacement system comes into force on 1 April, but the total change of personnel in the positions of power in the Conservative government have slowed down matters somewhat.
It had also been expected that under the new funding system the Levy Board’s functions of setting a rate, collecting funding from betting operators and then distributing it would be carried out by government, the Gambling Commission and a new racing authority respectively.
However, it is believed the government last week informed interested parties it will retain the Levy Board and its collection and distribution responsibilities until 31 December next year.
The news does not mean the government has wavered in its intention to bring in a replacement mechanism, but the Levy Board must now make decisions about spending for all of 2017, rather than the first three months.
The Horseracing Betting Levy, which has been in operation since the 1960s is a statutory instrument which essentially transfers money from bookmakers to the racing industry, currently 10% of a bookmaker’s gross profits on the sport. However, it does not cover the increasing share of gambling carried out through offshore-based websites.
The replacement funding system will target this offshore activity, which accounts for approximately 40% of online bets placed. The amount that bookmakers are charged will also be determined by the racing industry’s finances, including income from television deals.
The Levy Board has been given several dates for closing its doors since the turn of the century, as successive governments have pledged to replace the funding mechanism with something more commercial. However each time previously the replacement model has proved to be unsuitable and the politicians have reverted to the tried and tested Levy Scheme.