Income from the levy for the last financial year is expected to be around £80 million despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Levy Board, which has had to take on extra responsibility for funding prize money while racecourse finances have been hit by the absence of paying customers, said the likely yield would give them flexibility in its expenditure options.
The figure is at the midpoint of the Levy Board’s most recent estimated range of £76 million to £85 million and is based on provisional submissions from bookmakers, including all of the largest operators.
It would be the lowest yield since the government’s reforms to the levy system, which captured money bet with bookmakers based offshore for the first time, came into force in 2017. The 2019-20 figure was £98 million.
However, racing did not take place for the first two months of the last levy year, including the loss of the Grand National, while betting shops have been closed or operating under restrictions for much of the period.
Levy Board chairman Paul Darling said: “There was no British racing for the first two months of the levy year and it was far from certain when racing resumed in June 2020 as to what the level of betting activity would be in the months that followed. We have also seen licensed betting offices either closed completely for parts of the year or open with restrictions.
“Since June, we have attempted to balance on the one hand our desire to commit substantial extra support for the sport from our reserves with, on the other hand, the uncertainty around our own ongoing future income.”
Darling said the Levy Board had spent £96 million in the past levy year, providing around 50% more to prize money than normal in recent months, as well as £3 million towards the costs of new measures to ensure the sport could take place in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.
He added: “On the basis of £80 million income, our reserves at the end of the 2020-21 levy year stood at just over £40 million. This will give us the flexibility to consider further significant investment in the months ahead, as the board has had in mind the importance of having sufficient resources for the recovery phase from COVID-19.”