British Horse Racing Levy Debate Goes to the Courts

Published Saturday, September 10, 2011 -

Horse racing has for many years been struggling to maintain its position in the gambling world. The cost of maintaining a track and the whole industry in general has become difficult for breeders, trainers and owners. Wagering on the horses is available through off track betting facilities so attendance at the track has been in decline causing more difficulties.

The protracted debate between bookmakers and the British Horseracing Authority over a Levy on betting exchanges is scheduled to be brought to a conclusion by Oct. 31, 2011. The debate rages on with neither group looking for any compromise to the other’s demands or requests.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and William Hill the U.K. bookmaker have collectively lodged an application for a judicial review. The review application lodged recently is concerning  a decision made by the Horserace Betting Levy Board to not impose a levy on professional, or business, customers of betting exchanges.

Acting Chief Executive of the Authority released a statement regarding the situation, ”We have always maintained that this is essentially a legal question and that clarity can only be determined by the courts. We urged the Levy Board to take this step, but they refused. The process adopted by the Levy Board thus provided no definitive outcome, evidenced not least by the fact that the decision in question was arrived at solely on the basis of the chairman’s casting vote. That is very unsatisfactory.
In taking their decision, the Levy Board acknowledged that it was open to anyone disagreeing with their interpretation of the law to seek a judicial review, and that is what we are now seeking. Given this acknowledgement, we hope that the Levy Board will work with us to keep the legal process amicable and swift.
The bulk of the work required for this process has already been undertaken by way of the legal advice which both Racing and the Levy Board have taken as part of the lengthy, but ultimately inconclusive, consultation exercise. We are optimistic that this will help to keep the costs of the process to the minimum. Given the rapidly declining income from the Levy, it would have been irresponsible not to seek clarification on this aspect of the law.”





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