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Budget day delivers timetable for new system of funding.

Byline: Bill Barber

THE BHA yesterday welcomed further details from the government on its plans to bring in a new funding system for racing after the timetable was announced following the Budget.

Bookmaker shares rose on the back of chancellor George Osborne's statement, which did not include any increases to machine games duty, although there was still a sting in the tail for the industry.

This month the government announced new funding arrangements for the sport, which would "create a level playing field for British-based and offshore gambling operators", plugging a hole that racing says costs the industry more than PS30 million a year.

A consultation period with betting and racing "to inform the level of contributions from betting" will start this spring, the government said, which would also "draw on the expertise" of the Levy Board to help decide on a rate.

During the summer and autumn the state aid notification process with the European Commission would take place, with the statutory instrument needed to bring in the new system published by the end of the year.

As had been previously announced, the new funding model would come into force in April 2017.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said: "This reinforces government's commitment to achieving a fair, enforceable and sustainable return from all betting activity on our sport."

He added: "We'll continue to engage constructively with the government and the betting industry on achieving the timetable set out in today's announcement, while continuing to innovate and grow our sport as the world's best and most natural betting product."

The government said the amount payable under the new arrangements would "reflect the degree of mutual interest between betting and racing".

The government confirmed that under the new arrangements the Levy Board's only function would be to collect funds, including responsibility for enforcement.

Once collected, the funds would be passed to a racing authority responsible for making decisions on spending, the funds benefiting "all those who play part in enabling horseracing on which betting takes place".

Shares in William Hill and Ladbrokes rose by 3.94 per cent and 5.92 per cent yesterday after Osborne left the main gambling duties untouched.

However, remote gambling operators did not survive unscathed, with the government moving to amend the currently more generous tax treatment of free plays in remote gaming duty to bring it into line with the tax treatment of free bets in general betting duty.

Hills' communications director Ciaran O'Brien said: "The industry has been hit by some PS500m in additional taxation in recent years and this is a further hit we could do without."

He added: "We thought we had dodged a bullet with Willie Mullins failing to land his four-timer on Tuesday, but the Budget has meant that, whatever happens on the racecourse, today will likely be the biggest loser for the betting industry during Cheltenham week."

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Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2016
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