On-course bookmakers return to UK courses in two-week trial

A limited number of on-course bookmakers will be permitted at UK racecourses from Tuesday, as part of a two-week trial.

This story featured in today’s SBC News 90. To view the latest round-up, watch today’s edition here.

Reported by the Racing Post, on-course bookmakers will be authorised to offer betting services for owners, starting with Beverley, Fontwell and Kempton meetings tomorrow.

While racegoers are not yet allowed to return to the tracks, the limited services will allow tracks to establish whether they can operate betting services that are in-line with COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re very pleased at this positive move,” said Christopher Hudson of the British Racecourse Bookmakers Association.

“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.”

The Racecourse Association (RCA) confirmed that betting via card as the preferred payment option, however bookmakers will be allowed to take bets using cash, with ‘cash managed in accordance with high street bank hygiene protocols as a minimum’.

All bookmakers are required to wear appropriate PPE if social distancing is likely to be breached.

York Racecourse chief executive officer William Derby expressed his excitement at the return of on-course betting at the track on Wednesday, marking the first day of the Ebor festival.

“We were delighted to receive the news,” said Derby. “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.”

The news follows a consultation with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

“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,” said the RCA’s Paul Swain.

“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.”

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