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HBLB to contribute £31.9m in GB racing funding for early 2021

| By Robin Harrison
The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) has agreed to contribute £31.9m in funding towards the first four months of racing in Great Britain in 2021.
Royal Ascot

The total contribution, HBLB says, sees it continue to provide “significantly increased” financial support to the industry, as it has done since racing resumed following its novel coronavirus (Covid-19) suspension in June 2020. 

It breaks down to £24.4m for prize money, a 46% increase on the normal contribution to prize purses for January to April. 

Raceday Services Grants (RSGs) will also be made available to tracks, of £12,571 per fixture, at a total cost of £5.5m. Through the Fixture Incentive Fund, used to encourage courses to host events on midwinter weekdays to drive off-course betting turnover, HBLB will make a further £1.35m available.

The Levy Board will also make £200,000 available to purchase personal protective equipment for racedays, and £450,000 for additional regulatory costs associated with Covid-19 measures. 

“We are pleased to be able to sustain our significant support into 2021,” HBLB chair Paul Darling said. “This announcement is intended to provide clarity to the sport about prize money and regulatory grants through to next spring. 

“The Board is particularly mindful of the delay in the return of paying spectators at fixtures, which will continue to affect the ability of racecourses to make their usual prize money contributions.”

Darling explained that “encouraging” levels of betting activity since racing’s resumption in June, the modelling for the rest of the current levy year, and HBLB’s cash reserves, gave it the confidence to agree the package. 

“Our financial outlook would need to worsen significantly in the coming months to cause us to revisit what we are announcing today,” he added.

Work on the 2021-22 levy estimates is already underway. This, HBLB noted, has been aided by Britain’s leading bookmakers voluntarily providing detailed data of their hose race betting performances, as well as operators reviewing current monthly payments. 

As such, the board estimates that total yield for the year will no the less than £75m. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 across the country, which has led to betting shops in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and northern England closing, will inevitably have an impact on the final sum.

Darling acknowledged that this situation would “inevitably require ongoing consideration”, adding that the increased funding was not a long-term solution. 

“As has been the case since June, this level of funding from the Board is unsustainable beyond the short-term,” he warned. “We continue to urge the industry’s constituents to work together on future plans, recognising that our contribution will have to return to more normal levels in due course.”

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