Bookies return to British racecourses today

A two-week trial will aim to test if on-course betting services can work with Covid-19 restrictions.
A two-week trial will aim to test if on-course betting services can work with Covid-19 restrictions.

A limited number of on-course bookies will be allowed to return as part of a two-week trial.

UK.- Limited numbers of on-course bookmakers will be allowed to offer betting services starting with meetings at Beverley, Fontwell and Kempton today (Tuesday).

The general public has not yet been allowed to return to races, but a two-week trial aims to establish whether bookmakers are able to operate betting services in-line with Covid-19 restrictions.

The decision was taken following consultation with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

RCA Brand and Experience Manager, Paul Swain, said:  “We recognise the importance of betting on-course. This is an important step forward for all betting operators and a further enhancement of the experience on-course for owners, to whom we are grateful for their continued support.

“The two-week trial will allow for important conditions to be tested and the safety of all on-course remains our priority. Working with racecourses, Britbet and AGT, we will monitor the initiative and after two weeks take a view on whether the trial is extended or not.”

Bookmakers will be required to wear PPE if social distancing is expected to be breached. 

Betting via card is being encouraged as the preferred option, but following concerns about the practicalities of all-cashless betting, the Racecourse Association (RCA) has confirmed that bookmakers will be allowed to accept cash bets using cash, provided it is “managed in accordance with high street bank hygiene protocols as a minimum.”

Christopher Hudson of the British Racecourse Bookmakers Association welcomed the move.

He said: “We’re very pleased at this positive move. It gives some hope to long-suffering bookmakers who haven’t had any work for months. We’re also thrilled that cash will be permitted for bets.”

William Derby, Chief Executive of York Racecourse, which will see on-course betting return for the first day of the Ebor Festival on Wednesday, said: “We were delighted to receive the news. We feel it’s a step in the right direction and we’re looking forward to helping develop these protocols for on-course bookmakers.

“We’ve reminded all of them that the only people on course will be owners and they appreciate that. They are keen to take this forward step and contribute to wider learning for the industry.”

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