BGC Members Report Record Horserace Betting Levy Contribution

Members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) are expected to contribute a record £105 million in levy payments to the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) for the past year, according to new figures. This marks an increase of £5 million compared to the previous year.

As a result of this additional funding, the HBLB has announced a £3.2 million increase in its prize money contribution for 2024, raising it from £67.3 million to £70.5 million. This marks the third consecutive year of increased Levy contributions, rising from £97 million in 2021/22, to £100 million in 2022/23, and now reaching £105 million in 2023/24. The HBLB attributes the £105 million total to provisional end-of-year submissions from most Levy-paying bookmakers.

Horseracing remains a significant spectator sport in the UK, second only to football, with around five million attendees at approximately 1,400 fixtures annually across 59 racecourses. However, the sport has faced challenges in recent years. In 2007, 17% of the population engaged in horserace betting, but this figure dropped to 10% in 2018. Additionally, racecourse attendances have declined by 14% since 2019, and horserace betting turnover from April to December 2023 decreased by 17% compared to the average for the same period over the last five years.

In response to the UK Government’s White Paper on gambling reforms, the BGC has taken significant steps to mitigate impacts on racing, particularly concerning affordability. Recently, the BGC announced a new voluntary industry Code on Customer Checks, developed in collaboration with the Gambling Commission and supported by the Government. This Code aims to raise standards while minimizing requests for private financial documents and will serve as an interim measure until more streamlined financial risk assessments, as outlined in the White Paper, can be fully implemented.

While the new Code addresses the issue of intrusive document checks, it does not offer a complete solution. The BGC and the Gambling Commission are now working on a new Code for Anti-Money Laundering checks, which also involve document requests. The BGC is also collaborating with the British Horseracing Authority and the government to establish a new voluntary Levy to support horseracing.

BGC members are estimated to contribute around £350 million annually to British horseracing through Levy, media rights, and sponsorship deals. Additionally, the wider regulated betting and gaming sector supports 110,000 jobs, generates £4.2 billion in tax revenue, and contributes £7.1 billion to the economy. Each month, approximately 22.5 million adults in Britain participate in some form of betting, whether through lottery tickets, bingo, casino visits, online gaming, or wagering on sports like football and horseracing. According to the most recent NHS Health Survey for England, 0.4% of the adult population are problem gamblers.

Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council CEO and Acting Chair, said: “This record contribution to the Levy is extremely welcome news and demonstrates once again the enduring, mission-critical support regulated betting provides British horseracing.

“Despite a double-digit decline in horserace betting turnover over the past five years – and a double-digit decline in racecourse attendances – this shows that levy contributions and prize money are both up, and it once again provides a timely reminder that racing could not survive without the record financial support that is flowing from betting.

“Our members remain committed to the long-term success of horseracing, and the huge economic contribution it makes across the country, especially in rural communities.

“Attention must now turn to how we challenge vested interests, introduce real change and reform the sport, ensuring we reverse the current decline and provide racing with a genuinely long term sustainable future.”

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