Skip to main content

Horserace Betting Levy

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 3 December 2015

May I first draw the House’s attention to the written statement in the name of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport that was laid in Parliament this morning and confirms that the 55th levy has now been set? Despite this, the Government remain committed to replacing the current levy system to create a level playing field for British-based and offshore gambling operators. Work is continuing and we will make a further announcement in due course.

I am grateful for that response. One of the proposals put to the Minister by the sport of racing is for a racing right. Will she say what work the Government have done in considering the proposal, whether she needs further detail from the industry and what timescale we are talking about?

The previous Government undertook three consultations and we are committed to replacing the outdated levy. Work is continuing and more detailed policy design is under way. We will make a further announcement in due course.

There is growing concern in the five racecourses in Scotland, including Musselburgh in my constituency, regarding the delay in introducing the new horseracing right. May I press the Minister for some form of timetable so that the racecourse industry knows where it is?

Reform of the levy is an incredibly detailed piece of work and we want to ensure we get it right. It is important for everybody involved that we ensure that racing, a huge economic contributor to the UK economy, continues to be strong. We therefore want to ensure we do things appropriately.

I should make people aware of my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The total prize money fund for horseracing in the UK is £130 million, and, in one form or another, bookmakers hand to racing almost £200 million—nearly 50% more than the total prize money. Is it not fair to say that bookmakers pay a fair price for the racing product, and was it not irresponsible of the racing industry to turn down the extra millions of pounds on offer to it in the recent levy negotiations?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question. I know he takes a keen interest in this matter. I assure him that discussions on the levy, including the voluntary contribution, took place, as the Secretary of State’s written statement today makes clear. There is an issue with offshore remote gamblers not contributing from the statutory perspective, and that requires reform. We are therefore looking at it in close detail.

It is two years since Labour forced the Government to commit to introducing a racing right to ensure that racing gets a fair return on all forms of betting based in the UK. It is estimated that the industry is missing out on £30 million a year. I press the Minister again: when can we expect a conclusion to the discussions on the horseracing right, and what discussions has she had with the industry about a sports betting right for all sports, which the last Labour Government initiated, that can be reinvested in grassroots sport?

I have already answered the question about the timeframe. We must look at this in detail and an economic evaluation is taking place. The Government have no plans to introduce a sports betting right. The new model for horseracing will replace an existing arrangement for transferring funds from betting to horseracing.