DAERA Horse Racing Fund (HRF)

The information below provides details about paying into the Horse Racing Fund (HRF).

Bookmaker’s Licence and Bookmaking Office Licence

The Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990 states:

"(1) There shall be paid to the Department for the benefit of the Fund—

(a) by every person, other than a person to whom sub-paragraph (b) applies, who intends to apply under Article 8 or Article 16 of the Betting, Gaming, Lotteries and Amusements (Northern Ireland) Order 1985(1) for the grant or renewal of a bookmaker’s licence; and

(b) by every person who intends to apply under Article 12 or Article 18 of that Order of 1985 for the grant or renewal of a bookmaking office licence or under Article 14 of that Order of 1985 to have the provisional grant of a bookmaking office licence declared final in respect of each office licence,

a charge of such amount as the Department, with the approval of the Department of Finance and Personnel and after consultation with such organisations as appear to the Department to substantially represent the interests of bookmakers, may specify by order made subject to affirmative resolution.

(2) The Department shall issue a receipt to every person who pays a charge under paragraph (1)."

The Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990 (the 1990 Order) is available here:

The 1990 Order was amended by the Horse Racing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 which is available here:

The Act primarily amends the 1990 Order to update the named beneficiaries to the Horse Racing Fund.

The Horse Racing (Charges on Bookmakers) Order (Northern Ireland) 2010 is available here:

Horse Racing (Charges on Bookmakers) Order (Northern Ireland) 2010

Current rates

The current rates are detailed in the Horse Racing (Charges on Bookmakers) Order (Northern Ireland) 2010:

Licence type Rate
Bookmaker’s Licence £99
Bookmaking Office Licence £1,123


Bookmakers, or their representatives, can now make their annual payments in to the HRF online. 

How to make a payment to the HRF

To make a payment you will need:

  • Sterling Bank card (with a sufficient limit for the transaction);
  • Name and Address (including post code) of Payee;
  • Email address and contact number for Payee.  The contact number for the Payee should be registered in the United Kingdom;
  • Forename, Surname (and where applicable, Company name) and Address (including postcode) of each bookmaker paying in to the Fund;
  • Licence type for each bookmaker.

When you first access the payment system you will need to register with Northern Ireland Civil Service Identity Assurance (NIDA) or Government Gateway, unless you have previously registered with them for another service.  If you have previously signed in with either NIDA or Government Gateway, you may use your current password and ID number, as applicable. 

Please note that GOV.UK Pay has a maximum limit set on any individual payment of £100,000.  If you exceed this limit, you may split your payment. 

When you log in to the payments system you will find further guidance is provided. 

To make a payment click here:


Subsidy Control – Scheme Reference Number – SC10531

Purpose of the scheme

The Horse Racing Fund (HRF) compels bookmakers to make a financial contribution to the conduct of horse races (an activity from which they derive direct economic benefit).  In the absence of the intervention, bookmakers would have limited incentives to provide such contributions due to the non-excludable nature of races, insofar as their outcomes can be used as the basis for third party gambling facilities.  

The need for compulsory contributions from bookmakers should be viewed within the context that the appeal of horse racing is intrinsically linked to the availability of gambling facilities.  Market shifts within the Northern Ireland betting sector have contributed to reduced physical attendance at races due to the proliferation of off-course gambling options.  Corresponding reductions in revenue from reduced physical attendance at meetings limits the ability of courses to support an optimal number of races.  As the outcome of these races is used as the basis for third party gambling services, this negatively affects the economic outcomes of bookmakers as well as courses. 

As such, in the absence of intervention, the market does not deliver an efficient, utility maximising outcome.  The HRF, by compelling contributions from bookmakers, ensures that racecourses in Northern Ireland have the requisite incentives necessary to run an efficient assignment of races. 

Categories of beneficiaries

The HRF applies to entities active in the track horse racing sector in Northern Ireland.  There are currently two entities eligible operating in this sector.  Both of the current beneficiaries (being the operators of the racecourses at Down Royal and Downpatrick) are set out in The Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990 (and as amended by the Horse Racing (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022).  Given that these two entities are the only venues where track horsing racing takes place in Northern Ireland, they currently constitute the market for such services. 

Terms and conditions of eligibility

Only beneficiaries that are named in the Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990 (as amended) are eligible to receive payments from the HRF.  In order for those beneficiaries (the operator of each racecourse) to be eligible for an annual payment from the HRF, each is required to submit an annual statement to the Department outlining their proposed budget and expenditure plans in advance of the year that they wish to make a claim for payment.  This must then be further supported by the submission of the racecourse’s annual audited accounts.  Payments from the HRF will then be considered by DAERA upon the racecourse operator’s submission of claims against the eligible expenditure (as prescribed in Article 3(5) of The Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990) whereupon the claims made are supported by proof of expenditure incurred.  Only claims that are verified and approved by DAERA will attract a payment from the HRF. 

Basis of calculation of subsidy rate

The annual charge levied against the bookmakers is set by the Department with the approval of the Department of Finance, and after consultation with stakeholders who represent the interests of bookmakers. The proceeds that are collected from the bookmakers are then disbursed to the racecourses by DAERA in accordance with the provisions of the Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990. Funding from the HRF is then allocated to each racecourse proportionately, based upon the number of race meetings that are assigned to each course externally by Horse Racing Ireland (the all-island coordinating body for horse racing).

Contact details

If you have any queries regarding the HRF or paying into the Fund, please contact:

Horse Racing Fund (HRF)
Equine Identification Policy Branch
1st Floor, Clare House
303 Airport Road West
Email: EquineID.policy@daera-ni.gov.uk

Closed consultations

Public consultation on the Horse Racing (Charges on Bookmakers) Order (NI) 2016

Further engagement on the Horse Racing (Charges on Bookmakers) Order

Consultation on the Amendment of the Horse Racing (Northern Ireland) Order 1990

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