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Levy spending maintained after smooth transition

Levy Board chief executive Alan Delmonte
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The Levy Board this week confirmed it would maintain expenditure in June at 2016 levels, with the transition to the new arrangements enacted by the government's reforms of the levy having gone smoothly so far.

The board has had to put back spending decisions on a number of occasions in recent months as it waited for clarity over the government's plans to extend the levy to remote operators based overseas.

Those reforms were signed into law on April 24 after they received state aid approval in Europe, cutting short the 56th statutory levy scheme, which had begun on April 1.

Levy Board chief executive Alan Delmonte said on Thursday: "The board’s cash position has been assisted by our receiving, from most bookmakers, at the end of April the first monthly advance payment due for the 56th levy scheme.

'New documentation'

"We worked quickly to issue new documentation, within days of the regulations being brought into force on April 25, to all existing and potential new levy payers. We're in the process of working through the responses.

"On the assumption a sufficient level of monies will flow in by the end of May, which is our aim, the board was able this week to confirm its June expenditure at the same level as in 2016."

The Levy Board had warned that should any problems afflict the levy reform process it would have to consider cuts in spending areas like prize-money.

That fear has receded for now, although any legal challenge to the reforms would bring uncertainty.

Delmonte added: "At the June board meeting we're aiming to give the board a full-year income estimate.

'Uncertainty for a period'

"However, there will remain some uncertainty for a period, given the window for a legal challenge to the new regulations will remain open for a period of some months.

"Therefore the board will have to consider carefully any guidance it can give about expenditure levels for the rest of 2017 and will respond as it considers necessary in the event there is a challenge."

The clock is ticking on the time available for a judicial review of the government's decision, which runs out in late July.

A challenge in Europe on state aid grounds can take place for two months after the decision is officially published by the European Commission, which has yet to happen.

Meanwhile the Association of British Bookmakers and Remote Gambling Association have decided Mike O'Kane should be their representative on the Levy Board.

There will remain some uncertainty for a period, given that the window for a legal challenge to the new regulations will remain open for a period
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