New era for racing as levy reforms come into effect from Tuesday
British racing's leaders have hailed a new era for the sport as a reformed levy system that will capture income from all betting channels will come into effect from Tuesday.
On Monday evening the government announced that sports minister Tracey Crouch had signed the order enacting the new system, which will now capture online betting, ending British racing's long quest to reform its central funding system.
Racing's income from the levy has declined from around £100 million annually in the last decade to less than £50m as a result of the boom in online betting.
BHA chief executive Nick Rust said on Monday night: "Today is a very important day for British racing as the new levy will make a significant contribution to securing the long-term health and growth of our sport.
"While there remains much more to do in this regard, the levy replacement in itself is a huge achievement, and one that could not have been brought about without the determination and leadership demonstrated by Tracey Crouch MP and her team of dedicated officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport."
Rust thanked his chairman Steve Harman for his work in securing levy reform, as well as the efforts of people from across the sport.
He added: "British racing is keen to move forward with the betting industry to ensure the sport enhances its position as a high-quality, attractive betting product."
Under the reformed system, betting operators who had previously fallen outside of the levy net because they were based offshore must now contribute to British racing's funding from betting on the sport.
Operators must pay ten per cent of gross profits on betting on British racing above a £500,000 threshold.
Racing's leadership believes the sport has been missing out on income estimated at between £30-£40m per year because of the offshore loophole.
However, not all that amount will be available to spend as the Levy Board has been eating into its reserves as it spent more than it has been receiving from the betting industry.
The increased income is set to be targeted at areas like prize-money for the middle and grassroots of the sport, and the welfare of equine and human participants.
'Many years of pressure'
Horsemen's Group chairman Philip Freedman hailed the news as "fantastic" for all involved in British racing.
He added: "The reformed levy will improve owners' returns and investment, enhance breeders' confidence to invest in bloodstock, and improve prize-money for trainers, jockeys and stable staff to help them sustain a living in the sport, following many years of pressure."
The news was also welcomed by Racecourse Association chief executive Stephen Atkin, who said: "Racecourses make a significant contribution to the economy as employers and visitor attractions across the country, and communities the length and breadth of Britain will be key beneficiaries of thriving racecourses supported by crucial levy funding."
The new system could still be subject to a legal challenge, either domestically through a judicial review or in Europe.