Bookies’ online loophole closed

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Government plans to close the loophole which allows bookmakers based offshore to avoid contributing to racing’s finances through the levy have been welcomed.

Leading figures in the industry said the move, announced on Friday, could mean an extra £30-£40 million being invested in the sport. The new funding arrangement, which is likely to see the end of the current levy system, is expected to be in place by April next year. Newmarket’s MP and cabinet office minister Matt Hancock said: “Racing touches the lives of millions, is the nation’s second most watched sport, supports over 85,000 jobs including many in Newmarket, and has a huge impact on our economy and trade. Yet its finances have been hampered by an outdated levy system for some time. The news is a big step forward.”

Leading Newmarket trainer William Haggas added: “I am delighted with this news, which will help secure the future of our sport and the many jobs within it. Horsemen know that many bookmakers want to grow the sport in collaboration with racing, and I would urge those parties that are still wavering, for example in becoming an ABP (authorised betting partner), to get on the train fast.” The Jockey Club, which owns Newmarket’s racecourses was the first to adopt the ABP policy which prevents bookies who don’t pay into racing from offshore betting from entering into commercial arrangements with the sport including sponsorship.