SBC News BHA to monitor Pilot proceedings as Government is reminded of Levy pledge

BHA to monitor Pilot proceedings as Government is reminded of Levy pledge

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will closely monitor the forthcoming developments of the UK Gambling Commission’s (UKGC) pilot scheme and timeline to implement affordability checks.

The governing body of British racing has issued its response to yesterday’s announcement by the Gambling Commission that it would roll out its pilot scheme on “frictionless customer affordability checks” from August 2024, initiating a six-month test phase to move to a live environment.

BHA CEO Julie Harrington commented, “We are reassured that the Government has listened to Racing’s long campaign against the affordability checks first outlined in its White Paper more than a year ago.”

Representing the interests of UK racing and its rural value-chain, the BHA and its members have voiced strong concerns against financial affordability checks being imposed on customers.

Alongside the Jockey Club and Racing Post, the BHA submitted a petition to Parliament with more than 100,000 signatures opposing the affordability checks as proposed by the Gambling Review’s White Paper.

Harrington credited British racing’s joint effort to raise concerns on an issue that could lead to a £250m downturn in lost betting revenues, as detailed to MPs at a Westminster Hall debate in February.

Yesterday, the UKGC confirmed that the lower threshold for affordability checks will be raised to £150, up from the £125 tier recommended by the White Paper.

The BHA stated: “While today’s announcement on increased thresholds for affordability checks is a step in the right direction, it does not yet secure a more sustainable future for racing’s finances.”

For racing stakeholders, the pilot phase on affordability checks is viewed as a critical remit, in which the commission must maintain the primary objective that checks are unintrusive for recreational customers.

“It is also vital that new rules on Anti-Money Laundering checks are established as soon as possible to prevent racing bettors from being caught up in separate requests for financial documents,” Harrington noted.

Beyond affordability checks, the BHA reminded the government of its pledge to proceed with a review of British Racing’s levy structure to enhance and secure the long-term funding of these heritage sports.

Harrington concluded: “We remain concerned that there is no update on the Government’s review of the Levy, promised more than a year ago, and the threat it poses to Racing’s financial well-being. We will continue to work collaboratively with Secretary of State Lucy Frazer and Sports Minister Stuart Andrew to secure a review of the Levy that delivers a sustainable funding model for Britain’s second most-watched sport, safeguarding thousands of jobs and an economic lifeline in Britain’s rural communities.”

“It remains our belief that the simplest way to do this is to increase the basic rate of Levy and include bets taken on overseas racing to put our sport on a level playing field with other jurisdictions.”

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