It takes a special type of talent to tip as many losing horses as I do. And then to advise the purchase of bookmaker shares in a week in which the market value of Ladbrokes dropped 20%... well, what can I say: there is a reason why I have to work for a living.
If you haven’t
bought any bookmaker shares yet, I’d suggest that you do now. It may sound like
the desperate voice of a gambler chasing his losses, but there are sound
reasons for believing that the betting industry will prosper in the months to
come. Firstly, it was a fantastic Cheltenham Festival for bookmakers – they won’t
have finished counting their profits yet.
Secondly, the catalyst
for the precipitous fall was the Chancellor’s announcement that he’d be increasing
tax on fixed-odds gambling machines in shops from 20% to 25%. However, the stock-market
had already built in a healthy discount to allow for the Government placing
additional constraints on these machines – either a reduction in their numbers
or lower limits on the prizes offered. Now that the Government is increasing
their tax-take, it is difficult to imagine them attempting to discourage their
use any further.
also had some welcome news for the racing industry: announcing that he would “extend
the Horserace Betting Levy to bookmakers who are based offshore”. It is
estimated that the racing industry currently loses out on Levy receipts worth
approximately £20 million through the use of off-shore betting services
provided to UK based customers. That money will go a long way towards improving
prize funds throughout the industry, which in turn filters through to racehorse
trainers, breeders, stable staff and many small rural employers such as farriers,
vets and feed merchants.
While some prominent
betting companies already pay a voluntary contribution to the Levy, to
compensate for the offshore shortage, the proposed levy reform will impact
hardest on the remote betting operations of brands that don’t operate from the
High Street and have never contributed to the prosperity of the horse racing
industry. The budget announcement may have looked like a blood-bath for
bookmakers, but don’t expect the major brands to lose out in the long-term –
the long-overdue overhaul of the Levy will create an environment in which the racing
and betting industries can work together with a common purpose.
There wasn’t a
lot of news in the budget with regard to the Married Couples Allowance, but the
Chancellor has indicated previously that a scheme would be put in place before
the next election. So if you want to get ahead of the game, now might be a good
time to plan a wedding – and coincidentally, we shall be hosting a Wedding
Fayre in the Grandstand on Sunday 30th March. If you’d like to come
and look around our beautiful venue and meet some of the best local suppliers
of food, flowers, photography and more – please come along between 1.00pm and
those who haven’t completely lost faith, boost your budget with this week’s
selection: Lie Forrit at Kelso on Saturday.