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UK Horseracing Seeks Bigger Share of Betting

2nd October 2009 8:24 am GMT

With latest research showing that Horseracing comes second only to football in terms of popularity in Britain, the Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority has reiterated his view that British racing does not receive an adequate or fair return from the betting industry, calling the system 'broken'.

The new report is the second of its type produced for British horseracing by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, and examines the economic impact of British racing primarily for the period up to 2008, as well as positioning racing in the context of British sports, betting, leisure and rural economies.

According to the study, Britain was second only to Japan in terms of the total amount bet on racing, with £12.1 billion wagered compared to just under £14 billion in Japan. The return to racing amounted to £118 million in Britain, 1% of the total wagered, while the return in Japan amounted to £741 million or 5% of the total wagered. Both the U.S and France saw an 8% return on money wagered to racing.

The sport however has never been more popular, with attendances last year placing racing second only to football in popularity in the UK.

Revenues for the sixty racecourses which were open in 2008 increased by 18% to £456 million compared to 2005 when the last study was compiled, through a combination of distributions from the Levy Board and internally generated revenues from race-day admissions, media rights, sponsorships and other commercial activities. Racecourses received approximately £150 million from betting revenues via on-course betting, media payments and the Levy.

The British Horseracing Authority, the regulatory body for British horseracing, said that racing had retained its position as the second biggest sports in Britain after football, including revenue generation and attendance, generating an estimated £3.39 billion in direct, indirect and induced expenditure in 2008, an increase of 19% on 2005 levels. Including capital expenditure of £317 million, this figure rises to more than £3.7 billion.

Racing also enjoyed four of the top eight most highly attended British sporting events in 2008, with total attendances of 5.7 million.

"Deloitte's study reiterates that British Horseracing, as the second biggest sporting activity in Britain, is a significant contributor to the leisure, agricultural and rural economies in Britain," said Nic Coward, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority.

"It also highlights the disparity regarding the returns to the sport from betting compared to other major racing nations. If further demonstration of our broken system was needed, we have the second highest betting turnover of the major racing nations yet the lowest return by far from the betting industry to our sport.

British racing contributed at least £325 million in tax during 2008, with over £1.5 billion contributed over the last five years. Betting on racing provides the largest proportion of tax generated, with an estimated £155 million payable by British betting operators on gross win during the year. The remaining £170 million comes from VAT contributions and employment taxes.

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