BHB calls for tax cut

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A cut in betting duty was called for yesterday by the British Horseracing Board in a memorandum to the Government. The call, which has become an annual event, follows fears that betting turnover is falling.

The BHB wants a reduction in duty to 6 per cent from the current rate of 7.75 per cent, coupled with an increase in the betting levy.

Tristram Ricketts, the board's chief executive, said: "The BHB has made this request to the Chancellor every year since it was set up in 1993 and we will go on until we get a positive reaction."

The board claims that betting turnover, falling in real terms for nearly 30 years and now reportedly falling in absolute terms too, has been hit by the increase in tax burden - the effective rate of betting duty on customer spend is 34 per cent.

Turnover has also been hit by the National Lottery - which has an effective tax rate of only 24 per cent - and scratch cards.

It is claimed that betting offices will close if there is not a reversal in the downward trend, leading to further loss of revenue.

The board concludes that 1 per cent of the proposed 1.75 per cent cut in duty should be passed on to punters to stimulate turnover and improve government tax revenue and betting industry profitability.

The remainder should go to racing via the levy, with the Levy Board urged to use a significant part of the proceeds to provide an enhanced incentive to racehorse investment through a total prize money pool of some pounds 82 million.