BGC: postpone Grand National until betting shops reopen

Betting shops are scheduled to reopen on April 12.
Betting shops are scheduled to reopen on April 12.

The industry group is calling for the UK’s most popular horse race to be postponed after lockdown restrictions end.

UK.- The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is calling for the Grand National to be postponed until after betting shops are allowed to reopen in order to provide a boost to both the racing and gaming sectors.

The race is scheduled to take place at Aintree Racecourse on April 10. Under plans revealed on Monday, betting shops in England will not reopen until two days later.

Betting shops have been included in the second stage of the UK government’s “roadmap out of lockdown”, which is scheduled to commence on April 12 provided there are no increases in the number of Covid-19 cases.

The Grand National is traditionally the busiest day of the year for retail betting shops in the UK. An estimated £125m is wagered on the event each year, nearly half of it through retail betting shops.

Return of spectators to sports events

The event looks likely to take place behind closed doors for a second year unless it is put back to at least May, when the third phase of the roadmap comes into effect. 

Sporting events with live audiences at reduced capacity as well as casinos, gaming halls and bingo halls are scheduled to be allowed to operate under phase three from May 17.

See also: BGC demands “level playing field” for gaming after lockdown

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said. “Delaying the Grand National until betting shops are open is definitely an idea worth exploring. I appreciate that this is not without its challenges, but we are willing to do all we can to help iron out any difficulties.

“Ensuring that the once-a-year punters are able to pop in to their local bookies to have a flutter, supporting their local high street, on the world’s most famous horse race would also help make the Grand National a truly national celebration as we begin to reopen the economy.

“This would also provide a much-needed and timely boost for racing and the high street after such a torrid year for both.”

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