With both sides hoping to avoid government intervention, a deal to determine the amount British bookmakers will contribute to the horse racing industry is expected to be struck ahead of Monday’s midnight deadline, according to Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Simon Bazalgette.
“I think the odds are on a deal happening. I suspect it will be closer to midnight than midday. There’s the shape of a deal that’s coming together,” announced Bazalgette at the Sport and the City: Horse Racing conference in London.
Ladbrokes, Britain’s second largest bookmaker, also said it was expecting an agreement.
“We are hopeful that an agreement will be reached without recourse to the minister. The gap between the two sides is not as sizeable as in previous years,” a spokesman for Ladbrokes told Reuters.
Britain’s horse racing industry is paid the levy (based on a percentage of the gross win made on the sport) by bookmakers like Ladbrokes and William Hill each year.
The two industries negotiate the level of the payment and, if an agreement cannot be reached, the government intervenes. Last year, the government instructed bookmakers to cough up 10.75% of their gross profits to the horse racing industry, up from the usual 10%.
“Neither the racing side or the betting side really wants it to go to the Secretary of State. From a political point of view that’s not good for us,” said Bazalgette.
The overall amount paid to the racing industry has dropped in recent years as bookmakers have moved their operations offshore and, as result, have avoided the levy on British horse races. According to reports, the government is consulting with both sides in hopes of establishing a viable alternative to the levy for the future.