While it didn’t quite the reach the initial £500 million estimates being thrown around last week, the Cheltenham Festival still proved to be a gold mine for UK bookmakers, both in terms of betting handle and customer acquisitions.
That’s how big the four-day horse racing festival has become in the UK. Throughout the week, more than £250 million in bets were taken, a staggering figure that was compounded even more by the boost in new customers bookmakers were able to acquire during the entire week. It figures that with 67,814 attendees on the final day alone, Cheltenham has become a landmark festival in the British calendar.
A William Hill spokesperson told EGR that betting was fast and feverish even during the opening day last Tuesday, with the company taking in more than 3,500 bets per minute across all of its channels. And if that wasn’t madness enough, the Gold Cup Day saw those same figures go as high as 5,000 bets per minute, something William Hill indicated was a “new Cheltenham peak record”.
Another bookmaker that came out smiling was Unibet. Apparently, the company made out with a record turnover, thanks to its mobile platform generating incredible usage from bettors, enough for a company spokesperson to comment that this year’s festival was the biggest in the company’s history.
Even Ladbrokes and BetVictor, two bookmakers who aggressively sponsored events during the four-day festival, saw their investments pay off, particularly the former’s promotion on the World Hurdle, where it offered to refund losing bets on the race in the event Annie Power – the 11/8 pre-race favorite – won. Fortunately for Lads, More of That, at 15/2 odds, pulled off the stunning upset, beating the handing the previously undefeated Annie Power her first career loss.
Action from Wednesday and Thursday saw a handful of favorites win, giving punters reason to be optimistic for an equally rosy Friday schedule. But that’s when all the favorites came up short, much to the delight of bookmakers all over the country.