HBLB reforms will “rob the poor” says Labour peer

HBLB reforms will “rob the poor” says Labour peer

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 Posted by Michael Lawson
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The new reforms would transfer much of the HBLB's responsibility to the Gambling Commission.

Recently-announced government proposals to reform the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) and transfer the bulk of responsibility to the Gambling Commission have already faced political opposition, with one Labour peer believing the measures will “rob the poor” in order to “subsidise the hobby of the rich”.

Lord Lipsey told TotallyGaming.com: “I  have never understood why the government is picking the pockets of poor punters to subsidise the hobby of the rich.

“Now, bizarrely, they also want to wind up the Levy Board, which works well, and hand over its functions to the Gambling Commission – whose task is to regulate gambling, not to rob the poor.”

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has proposed the use of a Legislative Reform Order (LRO) to “reduce administrative and financial burdens on business relating to the administration of the Horserace Betting Levy”. The LRO advocates the transfer of responsibility from the HBLB to the Gambling Commission; the transfer of responsibility for expenditure decisions to the racing industry; and, as a result of these last two points, the closure of the HBLB and abolition of the Horserace Betting Levy Appeal tribunals.

It is believed that transferring the responsibility for collecting the Levy from the HBLB to the Gambling Commission will provide cost-saving opportunities, with the consultation stating a “reduction in administration costs will maximise the amount of Levy funds that can be spent by the racing industry in support of the core objectives of the Levy”.

The government aims to save upwards of £500,000 annually from the reforms, with the consultation due to run until 16 February.

Totally Gaming says: The recent proposals to wind up the HBLB are the latest in a long line of cost saving measures put forward by the current Conservative government. Given that the HBLB is an admired and longstanding body, its unsurprising to see any attempts at reform facing immediate and vociferous opposition. Time will tell whether this weak regime will have the resilience to continue pushing them through.

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