Sunak highlights racing concerns to DCMS ahead of Spring Statement

DCMS has been warned to protect the interests of horseracing, as the department prepares to publish its forthcoming White Paper that will demand a wholesale regulatory reform of the gambling sector.

This weekend, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reported to have raised ‘specific questions’ with DCMS secretary Nadine Dorries on whether UK racing’s concerns have been weighed up by inbound reforms.

Sunak, the MP for Richmond North Yorkshire, reportedly put forward the concerns of constituent John Sanderson – the Managing Director of Catterick Racecourse – on how betting curbs would impact UK racing’s current funding structure.

Sanderson,  along with other racing stakeholders have previously written DCMS, outlining that “blanket affordability checks could lead to losses of more than £60 million a year for the sport.”

The introduction of a player-safety ‘£100 loss threshold’ has been recommended to DCMS as a new affordability measure to impose on online gambling operators.

UK racing bodies oppose stringent customer affordability checks that will have a direct impact on the sports funding – as racing recovers from a 2020/2021 combined COVID-19 revenue deficit of £250 million.

Sanderson called for the horseracing industry to be taken into account in the Gambling Act review stating – “Betting on horseracing is not simple gambling like a casino … it’s a matter of using one’s judgment.

“Machines, online casinos and scratchcards are just games of chance, and are far more addictive to a person with a gambling-related problem. That was my message to Rishi.”

Publishing its annual accounts this March, the Horseracing Betting Levy Board (HBLB) reported to DCMS a going concern’ on the funding scheme’s ‘ability to continue’ as COVID-19 deficits had shrunk its available cash balance sheet.

On Wednesday 23 March, Chancellor Sunak will present the UK’s Spring Statement, outlining the government’s fiscal action to plan to curve inflation and help ease the cost-of-living crisis bearing down on the British public.

Post-pandemic, the Treasury is reported to be closely monitoring all tax-effective business sectors, in which UK gambling generates a tax income of + £4.5 billion each year. 

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