Grand National dates “a disappointing blow” to betting shops

The Grand National will take place at Aintree over April 8-10.
The Grand National will take place at Aintree over April 8-10.

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council has said it’s disappointed by the decision to maintain the Grand National dates.

UK.- The Jockey Club has decided to go ahead with the original dates set for this year’s Randox Grand National despite calls for the event to be postponed until betting shops reopen.

The Grand National is scheduled to take place at Aintree Racecourse over April 8-10. Betting shops in England expect to reopen on April 12 according to the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

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

The Betting and Gaming Council said it was disappointed with the decision. 

BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “Whilst we of course respect the decision of the Jockey Club, this news is nonetheless a disappointing blow. Briefly delaying the race could have provided a much-needed boost to racing, to the high street and to millions of punters who support this great sport.

“Races are routinely rescheduled, including most recently because of bad weather. Of course, there is always a risk with any decision, but I regret that a ‘can do’ approach did not prevail in this instance.

“This decision will also surprise many people who understand the challenging financial climate racing currently faces.”

The Jockey Club said it had reviewed all factors to make its decision, including financial, health, perception and the impact on other fixtures. It said it could not guarantee all mitigating circumstances if it moved the date.

It noted that the opening of betting shops on April 12 is not guaranteed because the government’s planned dates for reopening are dependent on no significant rise in Covid-19 cases.

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