October 24, 2012 11:05 pm

Horseracers and bookies strike levy deal

Two long-time warring industries – horseracing and bookmakers – have reached a deal on an annual levy to be paid to the sport, amid efforts to replace antiquated funding arrangement with a multiyear commercial deal.

They agreed that next year’s levy would yield a minimum £72.9m, compared with an estimated £72.4m for the 2012-13 season.

The three big bookmakers – William Hill, Ladbrokes and Gala Coral – have again guaranteed to contribute a minimum of £45m.

The Horseracing Betting Levy Board, the statutory body that collects the money and distributes it to racing, also announced that the amount spent on prize money will rise by 30 per cent to £50.2m.

In recent years, the levy has caused animosity between racing and betting sides, forcing ministers to intervene. The government wants to replace the levy with a commercial deal and talks on a long-term settlement are ongoing. This year’s agreement is a sign of a rapprochement.

Simon Bazalgette, chief executive of the Jockey Club whose assets include Cheltenham, Aintree and Newmarket racecourses, said: “The lack of a public battle around this year’s levy agreement is recognition from all parties of the mutual gains to be made from working together to build up racing as an exciting sport and a fantastic betting product.”

Will Roseff, who chairs the Bookmakers’ Committee, said the levy deal ahead of a deadline of October 31 was indicative of “the amicable and pragmatic approach” adopted in the talks by all sides.

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