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Horserace Betting and Olympic Lottery Act 2004

Horserace betting

7.On 2 March 2000, the then Home Secretary made a statement to the House of Commons to announce that the Government had decided to sell the Tote and abolish the horserace betting levy and the Levy Board. Amongst other objectives, the Act seeks to implement this policy.

8.Both the Tote and the Levy Board are Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Their current powers and responsibilities are set out in the Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Act 1963 (“the 1963 Act”) as subsequently extended by the Horserace Totalisator and Betting Levy Boards Act 1972 and the Horserace Betting Levy Act 1981.

9.Since 1928, when it was established, the Tote has had an exclusive right to operate, or authorise others to operate, pool betting on horse races in Great Britain. Pool betting is a particular form of betting where all the stakes are pooled, and the total pool is divided amongst the winners, less a deduction for the operator. More recently, following successive deregulation, the Tote has developed a significant fixed odds betting operation and is now the fifth largest bookmaker in the country. The business includes telephone and internet betting as well as over four hundred licensed betting offices.

10.The Levy Board has statutory responsibility for assessing and collecting monetary contributions from bookmakers and the Tote, and for allocating them for one or more of the following purposes: the improvement of horseracing; the advancement or encouragement of veterinary science or education; and the improvement of breeds of horses. This is the horserace betting levy system.

11.Both bodies also have some regulatory responsibilities. The Tote is in effect the regulator of horserace pool betting and the Levy Board is responsible for issuing certificates of approval for racecourses and also for the National Joint Pitch rules that govern the operation of bookmakers on racecourses in Great Britain.

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