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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

U.K. RACING FUNDING ISSUE

By Joe Streeter, for Insider Sport — Off the back of the 2022/23 financial year and the publication of the UK’s gambling White Paper, the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) has revealed levy contributions are set to stand at around £99m. 

It means that contributions from operators have remained steady in recent years, having increased slightly in 2022/23 from the £97m received in 2021/22.

HBLB Chairman, Paul Darling KC, commented: “The Board will be making decisions on prize money for the September to December period at its meeting next month and this likely outcome provides additional clarity in coming to those decisions.

“Although overall yield looks to be similar to or slightly up on last year, total turnover and race by race turnover are down overall and were consistently down from July to the end of the Levy year. The Board will need to consider carefully what assumptions to make about future yield given this trend.”

Additionally, the Board has observed reports of a ‘continuing decline in turnover’, partially mitigated by margins which it noted were ‘markedly above average’ in February and March 2023 when turnover fell year-on-year against 2022.

The funding situation of UK horse racing has become a cause for concern for the sport in recent years, with stakeholders voicing their worries about the sector’s financial backing through the course of the Gambling Act review.

In March last year, the HBLB warned of a darkening financial situation for horse racing as the UK emerged from the lockdown conditions of 2019-2021. This has seen the sport become increasingly reliant on betting industry payments to stay afloat.

More recently, Fitzdares CEO William Woodhams outlined that there is a ‘funding disaster’ on the horizon for UK racing. He pointed to the sport’s aforementioned dependence on the betting levy as well as the sale of data feeds, coupled with the unclear narrative of the White Paper from 2022-2023, as key reasons for this.

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