The ABB has made a submission to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s hearing on greyhound welfare:
Written evidence from the Association of British Bookmakers
The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) is the representative body for the UK’s high street betting shops, which have been trading on the high street for over 50 years. As one of the UK’s leading leisure retail sectors, bookmakers serve over eight million customers per year, employ over 40,000 people and contribute over £3bn to the UK’s economy.
Our membership ranges from major national operators, to single, family run businesses and collectively, we represent 80% of the sector. They include four out of the five largest operators: William Hill, Ladbrokes, Gala Coral and Paddy Power. ABB members work to the high standards of responsible gambling set out in our Responsible Gambling Code.
The ABB promotes and represents the industry to decision makers and in the media, and is responsible for making submissions to the Government and Gambling Commission on matters affecting shops. We keep our Members updated with industry developments, including through regular newsletters and updates.
We aim to help create and sustain conditions in which socially responsible betting shop operators can compete and prosper.
Support for Greyhound racing and welfare:
We believe that over 90% of the high street bookmaking industry, by shop numbers, make the voluntary 0.6% voluntary contribution on greyhound turnover to the British Greyhound Racing Fund (BGRF). In 2014/2015 this voluntary contribution constituted approximately £7.3million pounds. The BGRF provides a forum for those who share an interest in improving and promoting all aspects of licensed greyhound racing and in its 2014/2015 accounts highlighted that just under 70% of its expenditure was earmarked for welfare spend. Their accounts note that “This includes prize money, as it is an important source of income for owners and trainers and underpins their welfare provisions.”
In addition to the Voluntary Contribution to Greyhound Racing, the high street bookmaking industry pays significant amounts to greyhound racing in the form of media rights. In 2014/2015 we believe approximately £27 million was paid into the greyhound industry by UK bookmakers in media rights (up from £21.5 million in 2010).
Sponsorship, both of races and specific greyhound welfare programmes is a further area where ABB members make a significant contribution to the industry. While specific sponsorship figures across our members are commercially confidential, it is reasonable to believe that sponsorship activity generates at least an additional £1 million for greyhound racing.
Issues to be addressed by the Inquiry:
Whether current regulations are appropriate to ensure the welfare of racing greyhounds:
The ABB does not have the expertise or insight to comment on the measures or structures currently in place to ensure the welfare of racing greyhounds. While we believe ABB members contributed in the region £34 million in Voluntary Contributions and media rights to the greyhound industry, it is a matter for the greyhound industry, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) and the BGRF to identify the most appropriate mechanisms to ensure these funds are appropriately disbursed in relation to greyhound welfare. The ABB is keen to ensure that the greyhound industry remains independent of the high street betting industry and believe this structure represents good governance
Whether the current regulatory framework, including a system of both licensed and independent local authority-regulated racing tracks, is consistently enforced across the country:
The ABB has no reason to believe that the current regulatory framework, including a system of both licensed and independent local authority – regulated racing tracks is not being consistently enforced across the country.
What the current situation is regarding the welfare of animals with specific reference to breeding, kennelling, transporting, racing and euthanasia:
The ABB believes that this question is best addressed by the GBGB, which is the body with responsibility for the governance, regulation and management of Licensed Greyhound Racing in England, Scotland and Wales.
The collection and transparency of data referring to numbers of; active racing dogs, injuries sustained racing, use of drugs to influence performance, rehomed dog, destroyed dogs and breeding and import figures:
The ABB believes that the majority of areas covered by this question are best addressed by the GBGB, which is the body with responsibility for the governance, regulation and management of Licensed Greyhound Racing in England, Scotland and Wales. However in the area of the use of drugs to influence performance, we would state that as the representative organisation for the majority of companies that take bets on the outcome of greyhound races we are not aware of the significant use of drugs to influence performance.
Successful examples of self-regulation and the safeguarding of animal welfare from within the industry:
Many ABB members make contributions to the industry in addition to payments associated with voluntary levy and media rights. For example, one of our leading members makes significant contributions to local rehoming centres associated with Newcastle and Sunderland Greyhound Stadia.
Whether industry and betting organisations’ contributions to animal welfare are a fair reflection of the amount of income generated by the industry:
As we highlight in our earlier evidence, the high street bookmaking industry contributed approximately £34 million to the greyhound industry through Voluntary Contributions and media rights payments in 2014/2015. We believe this is a fair reflection of the amount of income generated by the high street bookmaking industry from greyhounds.
Whether any lessons can be drawn from horse racing or other industries regarding best practice and industry contributions to animal welfare:
The primary difference between horse racing and greyhound racing is that the Horse Racing Levy is statutory, while the Greyhound Racing levy is voluntary. With over 90% of licensed betting shop operators (by shop numbers) making the voluntary payments to the greyhound racing industry, we do not believe there is any material difference between the two funding mechanisms. We believe the voluntary nature of the Greyhound levy actually allows for more flexible and innovative solutions to be developed for greyhound racing than would be the case under a statutory regime