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RCA chair Carver looking to keep building bridges with bookmaking industry

RCA chairman Maggie Carver (second left) signing the members' agreement in 2015.
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Racecourse Association chairwoman Maggie Carver told representatives of the racing industry on Thursday night she hoped the sport could build a "warm and productive" relationship with bookmakers.

The words were the latest example of the rapprochement between the two sides since the government brought in its reforms of the levy system in April.

Relations between racing and the betting industry have improved in recent months following a cold war prompted by arguments over the plans to extend the levy to operators based offshore and the sport's introduction of the authorised betting partner scheme.

Carver, speaking at the RCA's Showcase Awards at Newbury racecourse, told the audience the "right time is now" to thank bookmakers, a number of whom were represented at the event.

She added: "As you know from April this year our levy system changed to include online as well as the retail market. We have amongst us this evening, I think for the first time, representatives from our four major old levy funders, Ladbrokes, Coral, William Hill and Fred Done, to whom I extend a very warm welcome.

"Together these four firms, through the old levy and associated voluntary funding, have in the past five years contributed in excess of £260 million to our sport.

"So it gives me great pleasure to just say thank you on all our behalf for the support they give us and to say we wish to build a warm and productive relationship with them in the future."

Carver's words were the latest olive branch to have been extended between the two sides.

Earlier this year Ladbrokes Coral chief executive Jim Mullen said relationships between racing and betting were the best he had seen.

And this autumn the first moves were made towards creating a body combining racing and bookmakers to develop and promote betting on the sport.

The evening was an event celebrating good work and innovation carried out by British racecourses, with Aintree being crowned overall champion for the first time.

We wish to build a warm and productive relationship with them in the future
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