Dogs Trust calls for statutory levy on greyhound race betting for all bookmakers

Today [Tuesday 25th June] MP Neil Parish hosts a Westminster Hall debate on the gambling levy from online gambling and racing greyhounds. Dogs Trust is calling for an introduction of a statutory levy to require all bookmakers to contribute to the welfare of racing greyhounds. 

Currently, bookmakers can contribute a voluntary levy for greyhound racing but this stands at just 0.6% of the turnover of the industry and there is nothing in place to ensure that this is ringfenced to be spent on greyhound welfare. Dogs Trust, the largest dog welfare charity in the UK, believes that the percentage of turnover should be increased and that this be made compulsory so that the welfare of racing greyhounds is prioritised by the bookmakers who profit from the sport. 

The income from the voluntary levy for greyhound racing was £6.95m in 2018-19[1]. If the levy was increased to 1%, this would have resulted in an income of £11.6m for the same period. At 1.5%, this would have resulted in an income of £17.5m. If appropriately allocated, such an increase in funding could make a significant difference to the welfare of racing greyhounds. 

Paula Boyden, Veterinary Director at Dogs Trust said: 

“We are totally opposed to any compromise on greyhound welfare and the introduction of a compulsory levy on bookmakers, ringfenced solely for greyhound welfare, would help to significantly improve their lives both on and off the track as well as into the dog’s retirement. 

“We welcome today’s Westminster debate and hope it will bring to the fore the necessary changes that need to be implemented to ensure the welfare of greyhounds is of the highest standard. 

“We continue to work with MPs and the industry, via the Greyhound Forum, to put pressure on the Greyhound industry and the Government to ensure better welfare standards are met across the industry.”  

In March 2019 Dogs Trust joined industry members from the Greyhound Forum, to meet with Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Minister, Mims Davies, to discuss racing Greyhound welfare. Davies was successful in securing additional voluntary funding from the bookmakers, however Dogs Trust believe that statutory bookmaker financial support and additional funding is also paramount to contribute to the welfare of the greyhounds who are so critical to this industry. 

Clarissa Baldwin CBE, Chairman of the Greyhound Forum stated that: 

“The continued intransigence of the bookmakers must not be allowed, it is a shame that despite all the requests from charities and the Government, the bookmakers continue to ignore their moral and ethical obligation to look after the welfare of their greatest attribute: the greyhound.

[1] Personal communication with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain