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Levy `set to raise pounds 92m' with big firms to the fore.

Byline: Howard Wright

BRITAIN'S bookmakers have learned that although the way they fund racing through the levy has been revolutionised, the major players will still foot the lion's share of the bill, writes Howard Wright.

The fine detail of the 41st-and possibly last-levy scheme, which was announced in principle by Tessa Jowell, secretary of state at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has been worked out by her senior civil servants.

The number-crunchers from the ministry have stayed true to the initial statement, that payment would be a percentage of bookmakers' gross profits from horse-race betting, rather than the turnover-based system that has been in place for over 30 years, and different from the 15 per cent of gross profits on all betting shop business that the government will take in return for the abolition of betting duty.

They have taken a base level of ten per cent, which will apply to bookmakers whose cash business on horseracing produces a gross profit of over pounds 150,000, as well as businesses exclusively operating phone and internet betting, and, for the first time, betting exchanges.

William Hill chief executive David Harding said the scheme would probably raise pounds 92 million for racing from the bookmakers.

He added: "That comes out at around the figure we put to the BHB in the levy negotiations, but which was turned down, and it sets the parameters for a true and fair price for racing's product. To ask for a further 2.5 per cent of turnover, which Peter Savill is demanding for data and pictures licences, just doesn't stack up."

Racecourse Association chairman Keith Brown said: "Now that the bookmakers know where they stand, I'd like to think we can make progress on the commercial arrangements. Racing's door remains open."

The details

Betting shop with gross profit of pounds 150,000 or more: 10%

Betting shop with gross profit of less than pounds 150,000: percentage calculated on formula of (gross profit x 10%) divided by pounds 150,000

Business exclusively operating telephone and internet betting, and betting brokerage: 10%

Spread-betting company: 2%

Racecourse bookmaker: pounds 132 flat fee

*All payments levied on gross profits on horseracing turnover. Base level of 10% produces average payment of 9%. Forecast by DCMS to produce pounds 90-105m, compared with pounds 62-65m from current levy scheme.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 11, 2002
Words:389
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