U.K. Horse Racing Must Resolve Scandals To Prevent Commercial Damage
British Horseracing Authority CEO Paul Bittar said that British horse racing "will not suffer commercial damage from recent doping scandals if it shows it can handle them effectively, the head of the sport's governing body said on Tuesday," according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. However, Bittar said that given "the very challenging economic environment the sport does need more money from Britain's bookmakers to sustain the number and quality of races." Britain's second-largest sport after football in terms of revenue and spectator numbers, horse racing "has been hit by a series of scandals in recent months." In a report published Tuesday, Deloitte said that British horse racing has so far "weathered the impact of recession and reduced payments from the betting industry thanks to an increase in the value of media rights." The sport had a total value to the U.K. economy of £3.45B ($5.36B) in '12, according to the report. That was "slightly higher than the figure from 2008, the last time it was calculated." However, there are "tensions over how much money bookmakers including William Hill and Ladbrokes put into the sport." Horse racing "has long been at the heart of Britain's big betting industry," but funding via an annual levy on racing profits has fallen to some £75M from more than £100M in the last decade "after many bookmakers moved online operations offshore, out of the reach of the British authorities" (REUTERS, 6/11).