by Renee Israel
The British High Court ruled on Friday that it was supporting the ruling that
betting exchange, Betfair, does not need to pay the
Horserace Betting Levy.
Between 2010 and 2011, the Horserace Betting Levy Board undertook a number of
consultations, in a bid to determine whether Betfair should be subject to the
same gambling laws as traditional bookmakers and pay the Horserace Betting Levy.
The consultations resulted in a decision that Betfair did not need to pay the
William Hill, one of the UK's most popular bookies, didn't like the board's
decision and therefore opted to contest it, requesting a judicial review on the
As noted, the review was finalised, culminating with a ruling by the High
Court which vindicated Betfair's position in the UK gambling market.
"We welcome the High Court ruling which has vindicated the position of
Betfair," noted the Chief Legal and Regulatory Officer at Betfair, Martin
Cruddance. "It is now neither sustainable nor rational to argue that Betfair
customers should be liable to pay the Levy any more than should customers of any
other betting operator."
Betfair Responds to William Hill
At the end of last month, William Hill challenged the ruling that Betfair
should not be subject to the levy.
The group argued that Betfair's unusual business model, where punters place
bets with each other, essentially attracts professional gamblers at the same
levels that licensed bookmakers do.
As such, William Hill argued that Betfair should be subject to same licensing
and taxation as them.
After the ruling, where the High Court sided with Betfair, the group
hit back at William Hill's continued efforts to fight the decision.
"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," said Cruddance. "Yet still, it chose to argue that an undefined
class of exchange customers should be required to pay Levy."
Befair Deal with British Racing
"The savings made by William Hill through Levy avoidance may help fund poorly
advised legal challenges such as this one," said Cruddance, "but I would suggest
that resources would be better spent with British Racing to reach a commercial
agreement in a similar vein to the one Betfair recently signed with the sport."
Cruddance was referring to the commercial deal signed between the betting
exchange and British Racing which will see a minimum of £40 million in funding
over the next five years for the sport.
Betfair will give 10.75% of all revenues of the sport from UK customer back
to British Racing.