The horseracing industry in the U.K. is about to enjoy a little early Christmas present. Bookmakers there have agreed to an arrangement that will give tracks a financial injection to help them weather the COVID-19 storm as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on the properties, as well as on the entire gambling industry everywhere. With sports gambling shops closing in the U.K. and Ireland once again, extra relief is going to be needed to keep everyone afloat.
Betting locations across both the U.K. and Ireland recently announced that they would be closing in order to comply with government-issued orders implemented to stop a new wave of COVID-19 cases. As the industry waits to see what their respective governments are going to do to help offset the losses, bookmakers are stepping up, providing additional fees to horseracing tracks on existing streaming and data deals. The extra money will be paid through December 2, which is when the renewed closures in the countries are expected to be lifted. Despite the efforts, however, there is still a chance that a number of the betting shops will be forced to close permanently due to a lack of income.
The amounts to be provided haven’t been disclosed, and will most likely vary depending on the type and scope of the arrangements. The CEO of Newbury Racecourse, Julian Thick, appreciates the gesture and believes it will go a long way to helping the tracks survive. He said in a statement, “This additional funding will be much valued by racecourses but it won’t plug the hole left by lost revenues from LBO closures for the next month. Make no mistake, racecourses are really suffering at the moment, and the return of crowds is absolutely critical to us operating but we are grateful for [the] betting industry’s support throughout the difficulties of the Covid-19 crisis.”
One of the largest providers of data to racecourses in the U.K. and Ireland is Racecourse Media Group, which serves 35 British tracks, as well as all 26 located in Ireland. The company has worked with its partners to reach agreements to temporarily bump up the fees paid and, like Newbury, expects the additional monies to allow the tracks to at least stay alive a little longer. RMG Commercial Director Nick Mills also points out how the racing and gambling industries can accomplish a lot when they work together for a common cause.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) issued its own statement on the arrangement, reiterating the importance of the deal for both the gambling and racing segments. However, it goes a step further and will continue to apply pressure on the governments to step up and offer some type of economic support to an industry that has provided billions of dollars in tax revenue to their coffers over the years.