UK racing bookmakers face 10% levy on profits

16 January 2017

The UK government has unveiled plans to introduce a 10% levy on profit for bookmakers that take bets on British horse racing from punters in the UK.

From April of this year, betting operators will have to pay the levy, regardless of whether they are based in the UK or elsewhere.

The new setup will replace the current system, under which only companies that are based in the UK have to pay the levy, with bookmakers facing a 10% levy on the gross profits above the first £500,000 (€565,600/$600,000).

Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, told the BBC that the expansion of the levy is “critical to the future health of British racing”, while Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said the move would make sure “gambling firms pay a fair return” to racing.

However, the regulation change remains subject to passing European Union state aid rules, and could face delays if the reforms are not finalised by the April target.

Bookmakers have threatened to launch legal action over the proposed changes, but Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, said such a move would not take place until after the European Union review process has been completed.

Hawkswood said: “There is a passing reference to the need for them to obtain state aid clearance and that remains a significant hurdle for them to overcome.

“It would be premature to talk about legal challenges until that process [of notifying the EU] is complete and that could take months.”

Related article: HMRC amends tax regulations for free bets