BRITISH HORSERACING LEVY IN NEW ROW
13th September, 2011 at 03:41:02
BHA and William Hill join forces over betting exchange questions
Should online betting exchanges be required to make contributions to the Levy Board, which subsidises British horseracing? It's a question that has caused substantial debate and acrimony in the UK betting industry, and one that is apparently still far from resolution, according to newspaper reports this week.
The Guardian reported that the Levy Board decided earlier this year that it would not pursue some users of betting exchanges ie Betfair
for levy payments, having taken advice from two Queen's Counsels who reached "materially identical" conclusions that it was not within the board's power to do so.
Despite this, the British Horseracing Authority and gambling group William Hill
plc (which is a rival of Betfair in the online betting environment) have joined in deciding to subject this decision to a judicial review by taking the Levy Board to court.
"There is no prospect of success for the British Horseracing Authority as it seeks a judicial review of how the Levy Board handles betting exchanges," opines The Guardian.
"The eventual outcome can scarcely be in doubt. The Levy Board's advisers, Michael Fordham QC and Lord Pannick QC, are the top people in the field. The chance that the BHA/bookie team will find a judge prepared to disagree with them is as remote as the offshore servers that Hill's exploit in order to dodge their own levy obligations.
Yet still Paul Roy, the BHA chairman, and Ralph Topping, the bellicose chief executive of William Hill, seem intent on pressing on. It is at once fascinating, baffling, stupid and pointless."
The newspaper points out that the action could require the Board to devote financial resources to an ill-considered legal struggle instead of allocating those funds to useful purposes such as prize money.
The report is scathing on BHA chairman Paul Roy, whom it claims appears to have made his second dreadful decision over a Betfair matter in less than a year.
"It will be recalled that Roy's private equity business, Smith New Court, spent millions of pounds buying Betfair shares when the company floated last year. This was deeply unfortunate on two levels, first because it made Roy look like a hypocrite, given his frequent criticism of exchanges, and second because, at the time of writing, Smith New Court's investment which apparently has not been sold has halved in value," the newspaper observes.
Related News Tags: Horseracing, Betfair, William Hill