Ireland: bookies expect a return to racing by summer

Racing in the country could resume shortly, with events likely to take place behind closed doors with no spectators present.

Ireland.- Bookmakers are expecting a limited return to racing during the summer once Coronavirus lockdown measures are loosened in the country.

Racing in Ireland will likely resume behind closed doors in the coming weeks and the Irish National Bookmakers’ Association (INBA) is looking beyond that to how they industry will operate over the coming months.

As part of efforts to contain the pandemic, the Irish government has banned all mass gatherings of more than 5,000 people until September, which has resulted in the cancellation of many top sporting events.

According to Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), on-course bookmaking is one of the sectors particularly vulnerable economically during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ray Mulvaney, the INBA’s Chairman said on Monday that he is confident that racing behind closed doors will be successfully carried out once Government gives HRI the green light to do so.

“Is this an opportunity with the GAA closed, restaurants, pubs, cinemas, theatres, that you could go back racing say in three weeks or six weeks: let people back in if they went through the advice and they bought two or three thousand tickets online, I don’t know.

“But if it was the case I’m sure bookmakers would be Covid-19 ready, with debit cards and gloves and other precautions. We’re an outdoor area with no bars, no restaurants: perhaps it is something where they could look at letting people in,” he said.

“You must remember horse racing is an outdoor experience. You don’t necessarily need a bar to be open, or a restaurant, in those big facilities at the Curragh or Naas,” he added.

Racing is expected to resume behind closed doors in Germany next week while French racing has received ministerial support to resume on May 11.

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