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Racing expects snap election will not affect levy plans

Prime Minister Theresa May has called an election for June 8
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British racing's leadership does not expect prime minister Theresa May's shock decision to call a snap general election on June 8 will cause an 11th-hour delay to reforms of the levy system.

Despite previously stating an election would not be considered before 2020, May said the only way to “guarantee certainty and stability in the years ahead” was to go to the polls in little more than seven weeks’ time.

The House of Commons will vote on an early general election on Wednesday, with the motion needing to be passed by a two-thirds majority of MPs.

The government's plan to reform the levy, racing's central funding system, by bringing operators based offshore into the net completed its progress through parliament in March.

However, the replacement system cannot come into force until it receives approval under state aid rules from the European Commission, which could happen this week.

BHA director of corporate affairs Will Lambe said: "The statutory instrument providing for the capture of offshore betting activity has passed all legislative stages in parliament and should be unaffected by the calling of an early general election.

"The only stage remaining before ministers sign the Horserace Betting Levy Regulations into law is European Commission clearance, which we remain confident of receiving shortly."

Lambe added: "In general, we'll continue to engage constructively with all major political parties to further the interests of British racing, and all those working within it."

Will Lambe: has been promoted to executive director in the BHA shake-up

One element of the levy reforms that could be affected by the general election is the launch of a consultation on the legislative reform order required to transfer the Levy Board's spending and collection functions to a new Racing Authority and the Gambling Commission respectively in the new year.

The calling of the election could also delay an announcement from government on the findings of the investigation into gambling it launched in the autumn, which includes the triennial review of gaming machine stakes and prizes as well as an examination of gambling advertising.

It has been speculated that maximum stakes on the controversial machines could be the subject of a major cut, a scenario betting shop operators have claimed would lead to shop closures and the loss of jobs and have a major impact on horse and greyhound racing's income.

The government said it would make an announcement this spring, and the expectation within the betting industry was that it would come in May.

However 'purdah' will begin when parliament dissolves – probably on May 4 – until the election results are called, during which time local and central government are not allowed to make announcements on new initiatives.

Reacting to the news of the snap election, the Association of British Bookmakers said: "We hope all political parties and any new government will support bookies who employ 43,000 people in the UK, are a major backer of British sport and bring pleasure to millions of customers each year."

Racing on Thursday, June 8, is scheduled for Bangor, Carlisle, Haydock, Ripon and Sandown.

We will continue to engage constructively with all major political parties to further the interests of British racing, and all those working within it
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