Board wants betting duty cut

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The British Horseracing Board is likely to make a bid to have betting duty cut to 5 per cent when it meets with the Treasury at the end of the summer, Tristram Ricketts, its chief executive, said yesterday.

Its proposals will have the backing of a pounds 38,000 study of the racing industry by the accounting firm KPMG in its efforts to boost the levy. KPMG has been commissioned by the Board to undertake a study of the value to the Government, in economic and breeding terms, of the racing and breeding industries.

The study is likely to be the chief weapon in the Board's armoury when it makes its submissions at the end of July to the Treasury on General Betting Duty and on the review of the VAT Scheme for the Registration of Racehorse Owners.

After lengthy lobbying from the racing industry, the Chancellor Kenneth Clarke lowered betting duty from 7.75 per cent to 6.75% in his November budget, a cut which took effect in the nation's betting shops from March 1. Although Mr Clarke's actions were universally welcomed, the industry soon called for the Chancellor to wield the axe again - and this time nearer the roots.

"What we want to do is show is that we have a healthy and viable racing industry that is of great value to the Government, and to encourage its growth further," said Ricketts. "But the study is also relevant VAT Sche- me for the Registration of Racehorse Owners, due for review in the autumn, which enables owners to reclaim the VAT they have paid on their racing related costs."

The study will estimate the number of people employed within the industry, excluding off-course bookmakers, compared with figures from 1993 and 1990, with reference to trainers' and permit-holders' yards, studs and bloodstock auctioneers, racecourses, jockeys, their valets and agents, and on-course bookmakers and Tote employees.