The UK racing industry is in full freakout mode on news that their annual kickback from the betting industry will be £17m lower than expected.
On Friday, the Horseracing Betting Levy Board (HBLB) announced that the expected Levy income for the fiscal year ending March 31 will total around £78m. This sum is “materially below expectations,” based on the £95m racing collected the previous year, the first year that the new 10% Levy was applied to UK betting operators’ online operations.
HBLB chair Paul Lee said that, based on UK bookie reports at the end of 2018, the racing sector’s latest annual handout was expected to come in around £89m. However, more recent submissions from bookmakers revealed that race bettors took the bookies to the cleaners in February and March, resulting in “very substantially less profitable” returns to close out the fiscal year.
Should that £78m forecast prove accurate, the HBLB says it will incur a £5m budget deficit. The HBLB had already agreed on an expenditure budget of £99m for the 2019-20 fiscal year, but this will now be cut by £5m, with additional cuts possible before the fiscal year is through.