No contribution, no sponsorship opportunities
The British Horseracing Association (BHA) has announced a sponsorship lock-out of off-shore bookmakers who do not contribute to the British Horseracing Levy saying "British racing is losing out on an estimated sum of at least GBP 30 million a year in Levy or equivalent payments by offshore firms".
The policy, expected to go into force from January 1, 2016, will shut-out firms who have neither paid an agreed amount in Levy contributions in respect of their digital operations or who do not have a commercial funding agreement in place.
The policy is independently backed by the two largest racecourse groups in Great Britain, Arena Racing Company (ARC) and Jockey Club Racecourses who between them operate almost 60 percent of fixtures.
Bookmakers who do make the agreed contributions, such as 32Red, bet365 and Betfair will be officially designated as 'authorised betting operators'.
The ARC and Jockey Club have agreed to no longer enter into any new commercial arrangements, including race sponsorship, with betting operators who do not contribute to the sport in terms of the levy or a funding agreement.
"British racing offers world-class sport, gives enjoyment to millions of people a year, employs over 85,000 people and contributes £3.4billion a year to the economy," Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority said.
"But we are underfunded and loopholes in the Horserace Betting Levy system, allowing the majority of betting operators to make no contribution from profits made on British racing through their digital businesses, continue to play a large part in that.
"We welcome the leading stance being taken by ARC and Jockey Club Racecourses. The concept of British racing working in a sustainable manner with betting operators is an important one. Every stakeholder in the sport must understand and take on their responsibly for the creation of the right structure to support the funding of our sport.
"This platform should help the government to complete its commitments to British racing to resolve the problems of the outdated Levy legislation with the introduction of a Racing Right to ensure a fair and equitable funding mechanism between the racing and betting industries."
Other leading bookmakers who have made an additional voluntary contribution over the past year of GBP 4.5 million include Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill. These companies will also become official partners so long as future commitments are met.
Authorised Betting Partners, will be privy to a full package of benefits which may include racecourse data, wifi, preferential rates for digital streaming and perhaps, the ability to reposition fixtures, the BHA said, but only once it is clear what "sort of revenue can be expected to be gained from going down this route".
ARC chief executive Martin Cruddace and Jockey Club chief Simon Bazalgette agree that the status quo is not an option saying the measure is "a substantial undertaking involving significant short-term consequences, but it is a necessary one if we are to ensure the sport has a sound basis on which to move forward in the years ahead" and "the time has come to make our symbiotic relationship a sustainable one too for the long-term."
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