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Incoming BHA Chief Bittar Says "Levy Top Priority"
Australian Paul Bittar, the incoming chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, has “placed the restructuring of the levy at the top of his list of priorities when he takes over the role in January” reported racingpost.com. Bittar (who will be heading to Britain “for a training week at the BHA” once the Melbourne Spring Carnival finishes on November 20) replaces Nick Coward as the head of British racing's regulatory body & “believes he can use the experience he has built up in Australia to help him succeed where others have failed”. He emphasised: “The levy is the critical thing in the long term, so it will be the critical thing in the short term also. I think what I can do is bring some learnings from Australia around a legislative framework that has helped us capture some of the components of the levy that are currently being by-passed in the UK. You've got the retail that is being captured, but everything that is going offshore is not. Very thin margins through the bookmakers & the exchanges are the challenges with the levy.” Bittar added he would “seek to work with the bookmakers” as they offered “a view into the thoughts of the sport's principle funder - the punter. I'm not naturally a confrontational person & I can tell you what I won't be doing - I won't be fighting with the bookmakers. The reality is the bookmakers are a key partner with the industry. They are our window to the customer & the main funder of the sport which is the punter. I actually see an opportunity to improve the relationships with the bookmakers, but hopefully get them to understand British racing is one of their key drivers to get their customers in. Ultimately they need a strong British racing for them to be effective & for them to be profitable. We need help from government in terms of legislative framework, but I won't be fighting with the bookmakers. I'm genuinely looking forward to working with the bookmakers, which is what we've done in Victoria.”