The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has backed the proposal to delay the Grand National until after 12 April to allow betting shops to take advantage of the event.
Under the government’s current roadmap out of the UK’s ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, betting shops are due to reopen on 12 April, whilst the iconic horse race will take place on 10 April at Aintree.
The wagers taken on the Grand National in the UK’s betting shops generates roughly £1 million in levy payments for the horse racing industry, which like many sports has suffered from the financial consequences of the pandemic.
UK racing usually receives around £350 million a year via sponsorship and media rights agreements with the gambling industry, in addition to the betting levy.
As the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) has refused to conduct a review into the betting levy, which many in the horse racing and betting industries had been campaigning for, figures in the two sectors view the postponement of the Grand National as providing a potential ‘massive boost.’
“Delaying the Grand National until betting shops are open is definitely an idea worth exploring. I appreciate that this is not without its challenges, but we are willing to do all we can to help iron out any difficulties,” said Micheal Duger, Chief Executive of the BGC.
“This would also provide a much-needed and timely boost for racing and the high street after such a torrid year for both.”
The event is the busiest day of the year for betting shops, with an estimated £125 million staked on the race by millions of punters.
These high street outlets in turn employ 32,600 workers and pay around £1 billion a year in tax and £60 million in business rates.
In addition, the BGC has also pointed to a study by ESA Retail which found that 89% of betting shop customers combine their visits to high street bookmakers with trips to other local businesses.
Dugher concluded: “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.”