Racing and Bookmaking industries fail to agree levy

01/11/2010

Negotiations between the horse racing fraternity and bookmakers failed to be resolved by the midnight deadline last night and now Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt will decide what bookmakers must pay the racing industry.

The two sides had months to decide the levy – which the racing industry initially put at £130m and the betting industry put at half that figure. But no agreement could be made. This is the second time in the last decade that the government has had to step in and intervene between the two factions.

The Telegraph’s Charlie Brooks believes that bookmakers may now be the losers in the argument now that the Government is forced to get involved. “Firstly, they have been disingenuous in the manner in which they have shuffled too many of their betting shops below the threshold at which they pay the full rate of levy. This threshold was put in place to protect small, single shop operators. Not multiple shop chains, many of which have been set up too close to existing competitors. Their reward for such shifty behaviour may be that the threshold is scrapped altogether. It is the lowest hanging fruit available to the minister,” he writes today.

However, Mr. Brooks also claims that the racing fraternity cannot rightfully lay claim to a share of profits that bookmakers make from the gaming machines in their shops. He writes:

“The Secretary of State, however, was also unlikely to have accepted racing’s arguments in their entirety. It is hard to understand, for instance, why racing should claim a slice of the profits from the mindless electronic gambling games that flash and buzz all day long.

“The argument that punters who are losing money to these machines were only in the betting shop in the first place because of horse racing doesn’t stack up. And the danger of asking for something to which you are not entitled is that it raises a question mark over other, legitimate requests and muddies the waters.”

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