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Levy legislation set to be voted on next week

Racing hopes the levy replacement system will be in place to benefit from the Grand National
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The secondary legislation that will enable the government's planned replacement for the levy system to come into effect is set to be voted on in parliament next week.

If all goes to plan the new system should be in place for April 1, provided it receives European state aid approval.

The new system will extend the levy to remote operators based offshore, closing a loophole that has led to the loss of millions of pounds from British racing's finances.

British racing's leaders believe the new system should bring in between £30 million and £40 million extra per year, although not all of that sum will be available to spend as the Levy Board has been spending more than it has been receiving in recent months.

The statutory instrument (SI), entitled The Horserace Betting Levy Regulations 2017, has already passed two of the five hurdles it needs to negotiate.

It passed the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments last week and this week was examined by the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee in the House of Lords.

Its report drew the house’s "special attention" to the instrument "on the ground that it gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the house". The SI will be subject to a short debate and vote in the Lords on Wednesday.

The report concludes: "There have been large-scale changes in the horseracing and betting industries since the levy was introduced in the early 1960s, not least the emergence of offshore basing for the major gambling operators active in the British market.

"The proposals in these regulations are intended to reform levy arrangements in order to protect the level of support which it provides to horseracing.

The legislation will not be passed unopposed. Lord Lipsey, who has been a critic of the government's plans, said yesterday: "I intend to fight this every step of the way."

The SI must also still be debated by the Commons' Delegated Legislation Committee before also being subject to a vote, this time without debate, in the House of Commons. No date has been set for either but both are expected next week.

The government has said that the legislation will only come into effect once it receives European approval. Racing remains confident that will happen before the end of the month.

If it is not in place by April 1 then a new levy scheme will come into effect until the new system has approval.

If all goes to plan the new system should be in place for April 1, provided it receives European state aid approval
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