Racecourse Association calls for Horserace Betting Levy to include online bets

By Bookmakers Review10 June 2013
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Racecourse Association calls for Horserace Betting Levy to include online bets

Speaking on BBC Radio 5Live, RCA Chief Executive Stephen Atkin has called on the Horserace Betting Levy system to be reformed to include bets taken online.

In a recent interview with BBC Radio 5Live, Stephen Atkin, Chief Executive of the Racecourse Association described the Horserace Betting Levy as an old-fashioned system that when was originally created didn't envisage the growth of online gambling and the move offshore of betting operators.

Atkin said there is nothing wrong in that but now the RCA is in discussion with the bookmakers over commercial deals and it is likely that any such arrangement will need to be underpinned by some support from legislation.

The BBC Radio host, Sean Farrington, said that according to the Bookmakers Association, horse racing is not a big part of bookmakers' business as it used to be, overtaken by football betting both in the shops and online.

"Well, that's the nub of the problem. We don't know because we haven't seen any figures," responded Atkin.

Earlier last week, the RCA Chairman, Ian Barlow, had told The Times: "We are completely in the dark. There is no readily auditable data."

But while the Levy has fallen since 2009 from £120 million to £75 million a year and despite the bookmakers claiming racing is not as important as it used to be, betting shops are paying more money than ever before for racing pictures which "rather goes against the argument that racing is less popular", said Atkin.

The Racecourse Association has called for bookmakers to come clean over how much they take in racing bets online so that the levy can be properly calculated on all British racing bets. Or in alternative new commercial deals can be worked out with the bookmakers knowing their total turnover on British racing.

Atkin concluded: "Yeah, well we are engaging with them. But the big problem that we have, as highlighted in that interview, is that we don't know the level of activity that we should be receiving money from. And they're not obliged under the levy to report that. So, it's a bit of a Catch-22 where it's difficult for us to know how much they should be paying if we don't know what the level of turnover is."

Pierluigi Buccioli