William Hill Stirs the Pot; Appeals Judgement on Horseracing Levy.

13 August 2012

Newspaper

Who is William Hill?

Some say he’s a British bookmakeer, a gambling giant both on- and offline. Some say he’s a pot-stirrer.

On July 20th, the High Court ruled in favor of the Horserace Betting Levy Board, agreeing that at customers of betting exchange users may not be liable for paying towards the Horserace Betting Levy. Paul Lee, Chairman of the HBLB, expressed his happinesss with the result, reiterating that “customers of betting exchanges (acting in that capacity) do not constitute leviable bookmakers under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963.”

What is the Horserace Betting Levy? It’s a tax on the profits of bookmakers gained from betting on British horse racing. Taxable funds go toward the business of horseracing: veterinary science, training initiatives and breeding programs, prize money, and integrity services.

William Hill decided to appeal the horse levy judgement because he believed the interpretation of who was and was not a bookmaker was ambiguous. Says Ralph Topping, Chief Executive for William Hill:

“Independently from all the arguments put before him, the judge drew his own conclusions as to the meaning of the act in question and we were never given an opportunity to address that thinking. We don’t think it is right. The only simple interpretation of his judgement: i.e. that no users of exchanges pay levy, ever, seems to go against what Parliament has said previously about both levy, taxation and licensing and could, if unchallenged, totally undermine any value in the Horserace Betting Levy.

“We are certain this is fundamental to the future of the Horserace Betting Levy Board and, hence, important to British horseracing and bookmakers and, once again, we believe it requires clarification.”

What does all of this mean? Currently the ruling states that the HBLB was right to exclude betting exchange users from being liable for the levy. As an IntergameOnline article translates, “While those carrying on a business of receiving bets are subject to a levy, entities carrying on a business that merely includes the receiving of bets might not be.”

William Hill is pursuing a the definition of “bookmaker” as described by the court in order to more specifically determine who is and is not required to pay the levy.