Horse racing revenues hit by rise of offshore gambling

A horse ridden Samantha Drake jumps the water during the first day of the Grand National Horse racing has been hit by the rise of online gambling

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Horse racing was still worth £3.45bn to the UK economy in 2012 despite falling gambling revenues, a report has found.

The report by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Deloitte blamed the rise in online betting through sites based abroad for revenues falls.

Web-based bookmakers do not pay a 10.75% levy to the industry, unlike physical betting shops.

But the report said increases in revenues from television rights had partially offset the losses.

When inflation is taken into account, horse racing was worth just 1.4% less to the UK economy than it was in 2008 - the last time the report was compiled.

The increase in online betting platforms has also hit revenues by allowing customers to compare odds more easily.

Over the same period, revenues from media rights have increased from £104m in 2008 to £173m in 2012.

'Significant test'

Horse racing is second only to football in terms of its number of spectators. Racecourses saw 5.58m visitors in 2012, the report said.

On television, the Grand National reached a peak audience of 8.9m in 2013 in its first year on Channel 4.

"British racing has faced, and largely come through, a significant test," said Paul Bittar, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, the sport's governing body.

"We were never going to be immune to the wider financial difficulties that still prevail, but can all be extremely proud of the scale of our sport's continued contribution to the UK economy."

The sport has been hit by a number of scandals in recent months.

UK based jockey Frankie Detorri was banned for six months after failing a drugs test.

Trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni is currently serving an eight year ban for doping race horses.

He worked for Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, one of the sport's biggest financial backers.

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