Betfair boss ups the ante by making UK quit threat public

BETFAIR’S chief executive warned in an interview yesterday the online gambling website could leave the UK over a row with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) over the horse racing levy.

David Yu told a Sunday newspaper the online gambling exchange, which listed on the London Stock Exchange last week, was “happy to be licensed and to pay sensible tax but if we don’t see movement we’d have to consider what’s right for the business over the long term.”

Last month, City A.M. reported that Betfair had made a contingency plan that could see it move its operations offshore to avoid paying the levy if the government did not improve the regulatory regime for the industry.

In the last couple of months two of Betfair’s biggest rivals, William Hill and Ladbrokes, have moved their online operations offshore where the horseracing levy doesn’t apply and where the gross profits tax, currently levied at 15 per cent, that all gambling firms are required to pay is also much lower.

Betfair has said it feels it is being unfairly singled out by the BHA. The deadline for a decision on the size of the levy for the next year passed yesterday.