BGC members contributed record $578.1M to British horseracing in 2022

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council members directly contributed £455 million ($578.1 million) to British horseracing last year in levy, media rights, and sponsorship deals, according to new BGC figures.

In addition, bookmakers spent £125 million ($158.8 million) on marketing to promote racing and betting through advertisements and partnerships, “helping secure terrestrial coverage of the sport, supporting two racing channels, and raising revenue for print newspaper titles.”

Showing a significant rise from previous estimates, media rights payments alone have increased by around £45 million ($57.1 million) since the previous year, totaling £340 million ($432 million) in 2022.

Meanwhile, levy payments are projected to be £99 million ($125.8 million) in 2022/2023, up from £50 million ($63.5 million) in the year 2016/2017, according to the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

These new figures dwarf previous estimates on the regulated sector’s direct contribution to horseracing, which had placed the figure at around £350 million a year, notes the trade body, which says the record investment also enabled horseracing to use some of these revenues to deliver record prize money of £179.3 million ($227.8 million) in 2022.

Michael Dugher, CEO of the BGC, said: “BGC members in the regulated betting industry are now paying more towards British horseracing than ever before, despite a 10.3% reduction in betting turnover on racing in the last five years. These huge sums also come at a time when the regulated betting sector is under enormous pressure, not least in the form of recent measures unveiled in the Government’s White Paper.”

These figures show that betting continues to bankroll the sport but it is not a bottomless pit. I know racing, just like any other sport and indeed our own land-based betting and gaming industry, is trying to bounce back post-covid in the face of seriously challenging economic headwinds – a task made even harder for racing and betting because of the decisions the Government deliberately chose to make in its recent White Paper,” he noted.

Dugher further stated that the BGC is fully committed to working with the leadership of the sport, including the BHA and others, to ensure racing not only survives but thrives. The CEO also noted that future investment must come with reform.

It should be noted that the funding figures for racing only come from licensed bookmakers. “The unsafe, unregulated gambling black market is a growing threat, and it makes no contribution whatsoever to horseracing,” the executive warned.

The figures are estimates covering the 2022 calendar year, based on exact data supplied by the BGC’s largest members, which account for around 85% of all GGY on horserace betting.

Horseracing is the second biggest sport in the UK, second only to football, with more than five million people attending around 1,400 fixtures annually across 59 racecourses.

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport has committed to reviewing the Horseracing Levy by next year, which is administered by the Horserace Betting Levy Board, and goes towards improving the sport, breeding, and boosting veterinary care.

According to the BGC, betting operators are working closely with the British Horseracing Authority and racing stakeholders on much-needed reforms to the fixture list and race programme which should increase commercial returns from the levy and media rights.

In April DCMS unveiled the Government’s new White Paper on gambling reform, including a number of key measures that the BGC says it also had campaigned for. Those included a new mandatory Ombudsman for the regulated sector, enhanced spending checks online, and a new mandatory levy to fund research, education, and treatment to tackle gambling-related harm.