Levy to roll on?

United Kingdom

This article was produced by Olswang LLP, which joined with CMS on 1 May 2017.

Perhaps bookmakers should offer odds on which will happen first – the sale of the Tote or the abolition of the Levy?

In this update we report on latest developments in relation to the Tote and, in relation to the Levy, there appears to have been little progress since our last update in April. As we reported then, various groups had been established with the objective of fulfilling the Government's desire to be removed from its statutory involvement in racing and, in particular, its role determining the Levy. However, progress has, at least in part, been hindered by the litigation between Turf TV, BAGS and SIS. The decision in that case is out today but we are again now in the period when the industry needs to consider next year's Levy scheme.

Under the statutory regime, if next year's scheme is not agreed by 31 October, the Secretary of State would again be required to make a determination. To an outsider, not familiar with the workings of the betting and racing industries, it would seem unthinkable that they might be prepared to incur even further wrath from the Government by forcing yet another determination but most commentators assumed that the BAGS/Turf TV litigation would never get to court. As things stand, the racing groups have called for the current Levy scheme (itself a roll-over of the previous year's scheme) to be continued for a further year. However, under the statutory framework, racing has no formal role in the process and it is for the bookmakers, acting through the Bookmakers' Committee, to make a proposal to the Levy Board which the Levy Board can either accept or reject.