British Bookmakers Set to Make Record Contribution for Rights to Show Horse Racing

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British bookmakers are on track to make a record contribution to horse racing next year – with the bill for media rights forecast to increase by nearly £30m.

The Betting and Gaming Council’s five biggest members for horse race betting, Entain, Flutter, bet365, 888/William Hill and Betfred, expect to see a record cost increase to broadcast races.

In 2022, BGC members paid £270.1m for the rights to live stream races for customers and show them in bookmakers.

But that cost is forecast to rise to £285.3m this year, an increase of 5.6%, with members estimating a further increase to £315.2m in 2024, a further bump of 10.5%.

The combined increase for media rights costs is now expected to rise by 16.7% between 2022 and 2024.

The figures are based on data supplied by the Betting and Gaming Council’s five biggest members for horse race betting, then adjusted to include smaller operators, who must also pay for media rights.

Michael Dugher, CEO of Betting and Gaming Council, said: “BGC members are already making a record contribution to horse racing and these figures show that is only going to increase.

“This comes despite a reduction in betting turnover on racing in the last five years and a worrying decline in participation in horse race betting overall.

“Horse racing remains a hugely important, world-leading sport, enjoyed by millions of fans and like the betting industry it continues to support large numbers of jobs.

“I know racing is trying to modernise and reach out to new fans, while also trying to bounce back from the Covid pandemic and deal with some difficult economic headwinds, plus deal with the hit on its funding caused by the Government. The betting industry is dealing with many of the same pressures on our revenues and costs.

“The BGC and our members remain fully committed to working together with the leadership of the sport, including the BHA and others, to ensure a better future for racing. But the fact that we are making a record and growing contribution to the sport cannot be ignored.”

The forecast costs come after the BGC announced their members directly contributed £384m to British horse racing last year in levy, media rights and sponsorship deals.

These figures showed an increase on previous estimates for the regulated sector’s contribution, which had placed it at around £350m a year.

In addition, bookmakers spent £125m on marketing to promote racing and betting through advertisements and partnerships, which helps secure vital terrestrial coverage of the sport and raise revenue for print newspaper titles.

As well as the increased costs for media rights, levy payments are projected to be £99m in 2022/2023, according to the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

This record investment also enabled horse racing to use some of these revenues to deliver record prize money of £179.3m in 2022.

Horse racing is the second biggest sport in the UK, second only to football, with more than five million people attending around 1400 fixtures annually across 59 racecourses.

However, its popularity is in decline. In 2007, 17% of the population participated in horse race betting in the previous year, but that fell to 10% in 2018.

Meanwhile football overtook horse racing betting around the same time between 2017/2018.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has committed to reviewing the Horseracing Levy by next year.

The Horseracing Levy, which is administered by the Horserace Betting Levy Board, goes towards improving the sport, breeding and boosting veterinary care.

Betting operators are working closely with the British Horseracing Authority and racing stakeholders on much needed reforms to the fixture list and race programme which should increase commercial returns from the levy and media rights.

The regulated betting industry fully supports this once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise horse racing so it can realise its full commercial potential.

The BGC is also working closely with the government on the proposed reforms from the White Paper to ensure those who enjoy betting can continue to do so without unnecessary intrusion, while introducing improved safeguards for the minority who struggle.

Betting shops currently support around 42,000 jobs, contribute £1bn a year in tax to the Treasury and another £60m in business rates to local councils.

The wider regulated betting and gaming industry contributes £7.1bn to the economy, generates £4.2bn in tax and supports 110,000 jobs.

In April DCMS unveiled the Government’s new White Paper on gambling reform, including a number of key measures the BGC had campaigned for.

Those included a new mandatory Ombudsman for the regulated sector, enhanced spending checks online and a new mandatory levy to fund research, education and treatment to tackle gambling related harm and problem gambling.

Each month in Great Britain around 22.5m adults have a bet and the most recent Health Survey for England estimated that 0.4% of the adult population are problem gamblers.

Meanwhile the unsafe, unregulated gambling black market online is growing in the UK, with the numbers betting on these sites doubling in recent years, and the amount staked in the billions.

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