Betfair hits out at William Hill over levy row

Betting exchange Betfair hit out at William Hill yesterday as it thwarted the bookmaker's latest attempt to make thousands of its customers pay the UK's horseracing levy.

William Hill claimed because Betfair's customers can take or "lay" bets on horses as well as backing them they were in effect bookmakers, and should pay the annual levy on the betting industry taken by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

The Levy Board decided in June last year that exchange customers did not have to pay, but this was challenged by William Hill in the courts last September. The judicial review found in favour of the board.

Bookmakers must pay the levy, £74.9m last year, on revenues from their UK shops but many have shifted their online businesses to Gibraltar for tax reasons.

Betfair's chief legal and regulatory officer Martin Cruddace said: "It is ironic that William Hill's online business pays not a penny in levy itself, despite making tens of millions of pounds in profits annually from British racing."