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    British Greyhound Racing Foundation: Supporting the Heart of the Industry
British Greyhound Racing Foundation: Supporting the Heart of the Industry
Greyhound dog with dollar. Source: Midjourney

British Greyhound Racing Foundation: Supporting the Heart of the Industry

The regulator of licensed greyhound racing in the United Kingdom is the GBGB, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. The organisation controls greyhound racing at 20 stadiums in the country; all stages of work with greyhounds pass through the Council, from their registration to retirement. Trainers, owners, breeders, veterinarians, and racetrack workers—all professionals involved in racing—are united by this organisation into a large community.

Major funding for racing is provided through the British Greyhound Racing Foundation (BGRF). Although some of the money comes to GBGB from annual licence fees, registration, and other fees.

The British Greyhound Racing Foundation was set up in 1992 to raise funds for greyhound racing and is, according to its chairman Joe Scanlon, "the heart and lungs of the industry's ecosystem". Operating under a licence from GBGB, the Foundation uses the funds raised to fund the industry. 

BGRF racing. Source: Insider Sport
BGRF racing. Source: Insider Sport

BGRF Funding: Sources and Challenges

In horse racing, bookmakers are required to make a mandatory payment to the Horseracing Betting Board (HBLB) under the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963. However, the situation differs in greyhound racing. The primary source of funding comes from voluntary contributions from the country's bookmakers, currently amounting to 0.6% of online betting turnover on licensed greyhound racing. Initially, in the early years of the BGRF, this contribution was set at 0.25p for every pound wagered on greyhound racing. While these payments from bookmakers are not mandatory, they are advisory in nature, posing certain challenges as some bookmakers choose not to participate in contributing funds.

For instance, in 2021, betting exchange Betfair announced a policy to reduce annual costs and ceased paying contributions to support greyhound racing. Management justified this decision by stating that such deductions were not in line with the practices of online companies. Consequently, if the annual cash flow to the BGRF was approximately £8 million before this incident, it decreased by £800 thousand after Betfair's departure, amounting to £7.4 million.

British bookmakers generate substantial profits and pay significant taxes. Since 2019, the tax rate for bookmakers on profits from UK punters has increased from 15% to 21%. In 2023, the UK government discussed the introduction of a new tax for bookmakers, with funds expected to be allocated to research and treatment of gambling addiction. Online companies would pay 1% of gross profits, while traditional ones would pay 0.4%. Given these tax burdens, not all bookmakers find it feasible to contribute to the maintenance of greyhound racing.

The fund collaborates with the British Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). With the assistance of the BGC, major online betting companies in the UK have signed a Memorandum of Engagement with the BGRF. Greyhound racing provides bookmakers with bettors and generates profits for companies, making investment in the industry logical and justified. Like a tree needing water to bear fruit, ongoing support is vital for the sustainability of greyhound racing.

BGRF Projects: Supporting Greyhound Welfare and Racing

Until 2020, the British Greyhound Racing Foundation (BGRF) annually granted £1.3 million to the Greyhound Trust, the country's largest charity. This funding was earmarked for the post-retirement placement of greyhounds, covering kennel maintenance, adoption efforts, and other related needs. However, with the initiation of a pension program by the BGBG, funds were redirected to support this new initiative.

Greyhound dog in medicine mask. Source: Midjourney
Greyhound dog in medicine mask. Source: Midjourney

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation played a crucial role in retaining trainers and dog owners, providing invaluable support to sustain the industry. Concurrently, the government also contributed £300 million to support sports, with £1 million allocated specifically for greyhound racing.

Each year, the Foundation and GBGB collaborate to establish a budget, from which grants are provided to enhance racecourse operations. The Foundation covers up to 75% of design costs upon project completion, with a maximum contribution of £10 thousand per racecourse. Notably, the Foundation adheres to a "one-year rule," refraining from considering applications from newly established stadiums in their first operational year. Following a year of proven viability, racecourses are entitled to equal benefits.

Funding is allocated to racecourses for track, facility, and territory development, as well as for greyhound welfare maintenance. The Foundation supports the presence of veterinary services at races and safeguards enclosures where dogs are housed.

Trainers and owners are eligible to receive grants from the Foundation. Trainers can seek grants from the Greyhound Council, while the Foundation contributes to the prize fund of classified racing, benefiting dog owners.

While BGRF is exempt from audit requirements as a small company, it has voluntarily undergone independent audits annually since its inception. Reports are published on the company's website to ensure transparency in fund allocation and dispel any speculation.

In recent years, the Foundation, like the wider industry, has encountered significant challenges. Increasing public pressure to halt greyhound racing, supported by animal rights movements and parliamentary discussions, necessitates the Foundation to defend the integrity of the sport and underscore its commitment to greyhound welfare.


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