BETFAIR, who upset the BHA when announcing they were joining other betting companies by moving offshore in March, have kept their pledge to continue to contribute to racing by donating £6 million to the Levy Board.
The figure is the same sum of money the betting exchange would have been required to pay under the terms of the 50th levy scheme for 2011-12 before management decided to operate with a Gibraltar licence, a move designed to save them £20 million in taxes on gross profits.
The announcement came in the week after the Levy Board voted not to seek a court declaration on whether the heaviest betting exchangeusers should be pursued for levy, a verdict which had it gone the other way would almost certainly have prevented Betfair handing the money to the Levy Board.
The money, which will go directly into the 2012 prize-money pool, was welcomed by both the Levy Board and gambling minister John Penrose, who encouraged ther bookmakers with offshore operations to make similar voluntary payments.
Penrose, minister for tourism and heritage at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, said: “We warmly welcome Betfair’s announcement and we would strongly encourage other betting operators to follow suit.
“This is a positive step for both racing and the betting industry at a time then all sides arecommitted to finding a long term solution to the levy.”
Making the announcement at last night’s Royal Ascot Charity Ball, Betfair’s chief legal and regulatory officer Martin Cruddace said: “Betfair has a strong track record in supporting British racing and this substantial figure is further testament to the commitment we have in seeing the sport thrive.
“I would now encourage those other operators not licensed in the UK but who are taking bets on British racing to follow suit.
“Racing in this country is facing a challenging time but this donation will help to further support prize-money and investment in the sport more generally and we look forward to continuing to work with the industry to deliver the best experience for everyone concerned.”
Levy Board chairman Paul Lee said: “I am delighted that Betfair has decided to make this significant voluntary contribution of £6m, effectively the amount it would have paid as if still operating under its UK licence.
“At a time when levy receipts are falling, the contribution is very important and I am particularly pleased that it will go to prize-money in 2012 when we arecurrently facing a considerable shortage. I hope the example which Betfair has shown will be followed by others for the mutual benefit of all involved with racing in its widest context.”