Following the six-day shutdown of UK horse racing last week, the Racing Post has reported that bookmakers have taken a £10m hit as a result.
The flu outbreak, which is estimated to have cost the racing industry somewhere in the region of £15m, led to the temporary lock-down of 174 racing yards and an industry-wide halt on the sport as a bid to contain the virus.
Simon Clare, PR Director for Ladbrokes Coral, addressed the estimated £10m figure: “The £10m loss of gross win to bookmakers is an industry-wide estimate, but feels like it’s in the right ballpark in terms of lost turnover and gross win on horse racing due to all the fixtures that didn’t take place over the 6 days.
“A decent proportion of this lost turnover did switch to other products that we offered in retail and online such as international racing, greyhounds, virtual racing, sports and football.”
Fortunately, the total fallout may not be as bleak as initially predicted as bookmakers often account for racing cancellations: “It is also important to note that during this period of the year, we often lose a proportion of UK horse racing fixtures to extreme weather, so betting operators would budget for an average year of abandonment,” Clare added.
“We have had a very mild winter so in terms of weather-related abandonments we are ahead of the curve, so the loss of UK racing to this unexpected Equine Flu issue, can be offset against what we would have expected to have lost in a typical year to weather.”
During the hiatus from racing, racecourses are said to have revenue losses in the ball-park of £3.5m: £2m losses for Arena Racing Company (ARC) tracks; £1.5m for Racecourse Media Group tracks.
But following the British Racecourse Association (BHA) decision to reschedule a number of fixtures, both bookmakers and racecourses are hoped to make up for the losses.
Clare concluded: “All in all, the six day shutdown cost betting operators revenue but nothing out of the ordinary given the nature of the horse racing business and we expect a bounce back tomorrow with the 9 race card at Ascot, and most importantly an interruption-free build up to the big betting festivals ahead – Cheltenham and Aintree.”