Hancock calls on government to fix betting levy ‘loopholes’

Matt Hancock MP has called on the government to address ‘loopholes’ in the UK’s horse racing betting levy, warning that the British racing scene could fall behind other countries. 

As reported by the Racing Post, the former DCMS minister and ex-Health Secretary made the remarks while addressing parliament yesterday, and identified what he believed were two major areas for change.

Firstly, Hancock argued that the levy should be based on overall turnover rather than gross profits, adding that this should be applied to all racing bet on by British customers – this would include not just UK-based domestic racing but also international fixtures.

The MP argued that this would generate around £20 million in annual revenue for the UK’s horse racing industry, at a time when the sector – along with other sporting fields – is beginning to recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen other countries around the world such as Ireland, France and Australia stepping up to back their racing industries more and if we don’t follow suit, we’ll be overtaken as the home of racing and we must not let this happen,” he said.

The horse racing industry has reiterated its calls for an overhaul of the betting levy throughout much of this year, with the sector dealt what was described as a ‘hammer blow’ in January when the government refused to review the levy’s duties and timetable.

Under the current requirements of the levy, UK bookmakers support horse racing with 10% of their profits. However, both the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the country’s racecourses have called for betting operators to pay the levy based on turnover, mirroring Hancock’s argument.

Hancock’s comments came during a Commons debate on horse racing’s contribution to the British parliament, during which Chris Philp – the newly appointed gambling minister – also spoke. 

The debate saw the government confirm that an early review of the levy would be considered, whilst the review of the levy would be informed by ‘detailed representations’, as reported by the Post.

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