Funding and prize money in UK horseracing is the focus of attention again. Several events have combined to cause concern for the future of the sport:

1. An outbreak of equine flu which stopped racing for a period in February 2019 and reduced the Levy

2. The restriction on FOBT stakes from 1 April 2019, which caused the closure of some betting shops. Media rights are paid on a per shop basis.

3. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (and continuing), which caused the cancellation of racing for a period and the closure of more betting shops.

4. The ongoing lockdown measures mean all betting shops are closed (Q1 2021).

5. The review of the Gambling Act 2005, which is considering affordability checks on gamblers, if they bet over a certain amount.

This week’s graph compares the increase in prize money for three key racing markets: UK, Hong Kong and Japan. It shows the performance for each market with the index based at 100 in 2011.

When the restriction on FOBT stakes was announced, then Culture Secretary and MP for the constituency which includes Newmarket, Matthew Hancock, piously stated that “horse racing should not be financed on the back of this [FOBT] misery”. He went on to claim that “horse racing is a wonderful sport than can, and will, pay for itself”.

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GBGC’s comprehensive Global Gambling Report is in its 15th edition in 2020. In the new edition GBGC has extended the forecasts until 2025 and has given its view as to how gambling will fare in the post-COVID world. There are also updated reports for more than 250 individual gambling jurisdictions.