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Levy spending confirmed after no legal challenge from Europe

Confirmation has finally been received from Europe that there has been no legal challenge to the government's reforms of the levy.

The window for a challenge to the reforms, which extend the levy net to operators based offshore for the first time, closed in November.

In September the Levy Board agreed in principle to increase its prize-money contribution for 2018 by more than £8 million but it was a provisional decision which depended on no challenge being made to the European Commission on state aid grounds.

The Levy Board can now look to agree levels of expenditure on other items such as veterinary science and education.

Levy Board chief executive Alan Delmonte said on Thursday: "This welcome news means that the board can now formally confirm its allocations for 2018, although it had already proceeded provisionally on the basis that there had been no challenge.

"Therefore fixture-related items, such as prize-money, have been expended since January 1 at the levels agreed in September 2017. The board will look to agree the remaining items of its expenditure at the end of January."

The government is currently consulting on the second stage of its reforms of the levy, which will lead to the abolition of the Levy Board, with its collection duties taken on by the Gambling Commission and a new Racing Authority taking over expenditure decisions from April 2019.

Former minister Sir Hugh Robertson was this week named chairman of the shadow Racing Authority and will start his official three-year term next year.

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