UK announces reopening of betting shops; BGC lobby to delay Grand National

With the UK government announcing their roadmap towards ending its restrictions by end of June gradual reopening of businesses. English betting shops are scheduled to reopen on April 12 along with other non-essential retail such as hairdressers. Casino’s and other gaming centres such as bingo halls are to follow on May 17 when indoor hospitality and hotels are opening again for business.

While UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the roadmap as a “one-way road to freedom”, he did stress the plans to be “cautious but irreversible” and that decisions would be made based on “data not dates”.

With April 12 as scheduled date for reopening of the betting shops, the British Gaming Council (BGC are lobbying for the biggest event in horseracing, The Grand National, to be pushed back a week to April 17 from its scheduled date April 10.

BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher, said: “Delaying the Grand National until betting shops are open is definitely an idea worth exploring.”

BGC believes that the delay will be a boost to the retail betting shops that were forced to close during previous months.

With many customers visiting betting shops just once a year in order to place a bit on the highly anticipated Grand National, an estimated £125 million is traditionally staked on the on the race with about half of bets being placed in high street betting shops.

Dugher further commented:

“Ensuring that the once-a-year punters are able to pop into 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. And it would ensure that we engage as many people as possible in this great British event, showcasing the fabulous sport of racing.”

While postponing the event for the reasons states is a worthwhile thought and something to consider, there are some drawbacks which will make it unlikely to happen.

Firstly, there are no guarantees that betting shops will actually reopen on April 12. There are still a lot of uncertainties and execution of the proposed roadmap relies on positive data on its progress. Additional costs that are involved in making the change could then be useless.

There is also the concern of having too many people visiting the betting shops at once on what historically the busiest day of the year, and thereby posing additional risks in this early stage of the reopening of the UK economy. On top of that the race might be drawing an undesired immense crowds to its venue as well.

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