The financial contribution made to British racing by the country’s largest bookmakers is set to rise in 2024, according to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
Payments from Entain, Flutter Entertainment, bet365, 888/William Hill and Betfred will increase by £30m, the standards body and trade association revealed today.
This ‘record cost increase to broadcast races’ will see the total payment for 2023 stand at £285.3m, a 5.6% increase on the £270.1m paid in 2022. In 2024, BGC members expect costs to rise by a further 10.5% to £315.2m.
Michael Dugher, BGC CEO, said: “BGC members are already making a record contribution to horse racing and these figures show that is only going to increase. This comes despite a reduction in betting turnover on racing in the last five years and a worrying decline in participation in horse race betting overall.
“Horse racing remains a hugely important, world-leading sport, enjoyed by millions of fans and like the betting industry it continues to support large numbers of jobs.
“I know racing is trying to modernise and reach out to new fans, while also trying to bounce back from the COVID pandemic and deal with some difficult economic headwinds, plus deal with the hit on its funding caused by the government. The betting industry is dealing with many of the same pressures on our revenues and costs.”
All in all, when compared with 2022 payments, the 2024 expectation of £315.2m marks a 16.7% increase over the two year period. The BGC has based these figures on data from the five largest bookmakers, adjusted to include the payments made by smaller firms.
As referenced by Dugher, UK horse racing has been facing a difficult period in recent years, having been hit particularly hard – similarly to other British sports – by the lockdown conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The sport is also having trouble with attendance rates, however, which has prompted racing authorities to look for new ways to boost engagement with fans. Overall, however, the sector remains heavily reliant on media rights and betting levy payments.
The BGC outlined in August that 2022 saw the British betting sector direct £384m to horse racing in the form of betting levy payments to the Horseracing Betting Levy Board (HBLB), as well as media rights payments of £340m, sponsorship spend of £125m and projected 2022/23 levy payments of £99m.
At the time, Dugher asserted that the betting industry is ‘bankrolling’ horse racing in the face of a 10.3% reduction in betting turnover on racing in the last five years. Participation in horse racing betting fell from 17% in 2007 to 10% in 2018, the same year in which football betting overtook the sport as the most popular wagering market.
In the midst of racing’s attempts to modernise and reach new audiences, the betting sector has been fixated on the outcomes of the Gambling Act review White Paper. A separate review is also underway, however, as DCMS plans to undertake a review of the horse racing betting levy.
Dugher concluded: “I know racing is trying to modernise and reach out to new fans, while also trying to bounce back from the COVID pandemic and deal with some difficult economic headwinds, plus deal with the hit on its funding caused by the government. The betting industry is dealing with many of the same pressures on our revenues and costs.
“The BGC and our members remain fully committed to working together with the leadership of the sport, including the BHA and others, to ensure a better future for racing. But the fact that we are making a record and growing contribution to the sport cannot be ignored.”