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Levy Board in desperate grab for cash

Today's article on the Press Association wire highlights how desperate they are for cash as their levy shrinks....

Levy Board to consult over exchanges

The Levy Board has begun a consultation process relating to the issue of whether certain users of betting exchanges should pay levy on their activities.



While this sounds logical enough, it's completely pointless. This has been examined over and over. Anyone that tries exclusively laying on Betfair won't be living off it. Bookmakers can't do it on-course with higher margins, so how is someone at home going to do it when the prices are always better? Sure, you can lay something they mightn't be able to lay on course, but when you have to lay 5/2 rather than 7/4, that's hardly going to be profitable in the long run.

The two types of Betfair customer who do make money on racing are the new types - ones which aren't taking anything away from traditional betting revenue streams, because they simply weren't there in the past. These are the pre-race traders using software like Bet Angel, and the in-running traders. Not everyone who tries it wins, but it does have a higher success rate than most forms of punting. But what is the logic in trying to charge these people on their profits? Does racing charge professional punters on their winnings? Nope. So why should people who use more modern services and technology be charged because they have evolved and prefer to shun bookmakers who tend to shut down winning accounts?

Why isn't the Levy Board working harder to chase bookmakers who move their internet operations offshore purely to dodge tax and levy? Probably because the board and Racing For Change has strong connections to the bookmakers, as alluded to here.

Betfair's legal director, Martin Cruddace, said: "We're very surprised by the Levy Board's announcement. This issue of whether betting exchange customers are acting as bookmakers has been the subject of debate since Betfair started.

"After a thorough, independent review of this very issue throughout 2004 and 2005, the Treasury came to the conclusion that the treatment of betting exchanges and their customers was fair. Since then, there has not been one scrap of evidence produced by anyone to suggest the situation has changed.

"We are extremely interested to see if the Levy Board is able to run a fair and impartial consultation process bearing in mind that several of their members have publicly stated positions that would seem to prejudge any outcome."


The whole system is disjointed. Racecourses will happily accept sponsorship from firms who dodge levy or aren't even based in the UK to begin with. And then they all cry poor because the prizemoney isn't enough? I'm glad they have finally decided to start dropping fixtures from the calendar. There are so many low quality meetings being held that do nothing for the sport. Just because a horse has four legs does not mean it has right to run on a racecourse. If it useless, then it should be pulling a cart or be someone's pet. An overpopulation of below average horses is not a good thing - it doesn't pull the crowds and it doesn't excite punters. The only thing it does do is make the (bigger) breeders rich because their stallions are servicing far too many mares.

Betfair further responded by redirecting some of their voluntary contribution into more direct measures...

“Today’s announcement by the Levy Board, together with the statement from Nic Coward of the BHA, illustrates exactly why we have redirected our voluntary levy payment. We have not withdrawn this money from British Racing; we have withdrawn our donation to the Levy Board and BHA,” said Betfair’s Cruddace.

Cruddace said the money was being redirected to make sure it is spent on delivering real benefits to the sport, rather than being “diluted by middlemen and the accompanying costs that cover their salaries, pensions contributions and the substantial legal bills incurred in a sustained and discriminatory attack on our business”.

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