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Racing Industry Rejects Levy Offer from Bookmakers

The UK horseracing industry has rejected a new levy offer from four of the major sports betting operators. The levy would cover their online and retail businesses through April 2019.

The four betting shops – William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred – have refused to join the authorised betting partner scheme that provides operators with privileges, such as sponsorship rights in exchange for a financial contribution to the industry from offshore online operations that are not subject to the levy.

The companies have offered the racing industry 5 percent of remote gross profits and 10.75 percent of retail profits from 2016-17 and a 7.5 percent contribution from both verticals for the next two years.

Racing has rejected the latest offer made by the companies, claiming it is less than they offered last autumn. When the industry rejected that offer, negotiations collapsed. In March, the government announced it would be replacing the levy system by April next year; however the bookmakers said they are doubtful that the government will be able to meet the timetable.

Commenting on the new levy offer, Will Lambe, director of corporate affairs for the British Horseracing Authority, said “We’re not going to conduct negotiations in public, but we are fully committed to achieving sensible interim arrangements prior to the replacement of the levy and also to smooth the transition to the new environment and much-needed level playing field for all operators.”

“We are pleased to have signed up three of the five biggest online operators as authorised betting partners, who recognise the mutual benefits such an arrangement brings in what is an essentially volunantry environment for those based offshore.”

Frontier Economics is expected to release a report in the next few days which will be used to calculate the rate for the replacement of the levy.

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