On Course Bookmakers Fearing The Worst After Cancellation Of Racing

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Racecourse bookmakers are fearing the worst in Britain after the BHA brought racing to a halt on Tuesday until the end of April and bookies are predicting "there will be casualties".

The betting ring has sent out a warning to the racing world with over a month of no racing across Britain leading to no trading and many bookies fearing that the Coronavirus could see a cease in the sport until at least the Epsom Derby in June.

Wednesday starts the first day of no racing since the Equine Flue saga of last year and big meetings that have already suffered due to the precautions are the Grand National at Aintree and possibly the Punchestown festival in May.

(Credit Racing Post) Keith Johnson, one of the biggest on-course operators, said: "There's no doubt there will be casualties.

“Some of the older bookmakers with money put aside should survive it, albeit with difficulty, but there will be a lot of people a bit more hand to mouth who will struggle.

"A lot of team members operate on a pay-by-day basis, so they'll find it really difficult if we go one, two or even three months without any income.

“Bookmakers will be trying to keep body and soul together for themselves and their staff so it'd be really good if the powers that be could find a way of helping us financially.”

Robin Grossmith, a director of the Federation of Racecourse Bookmakers, painted a very similar story by saying: We're going to be terribly affected. For most on-course bookmakers it's their sole source of income and I don't know what the answer is.

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“We just hope it ends quickly. China, where it all started, has managed to contain it, the infection rate has nosedived and things are getting back to normal so let's hope that happens here.

"If it drags on it's going to have a real impact on people's lives – those with families and mortgages and all those things everyone has.”

It has been one of the trickiest times to be a bookmaker over the last year with torrential rain stopping plenty of meetings including Grade One racing over the jumps and Group One racing at the back end of the last flat season.

The coronavirus crisis has cost layers potentially a big pay day that normally all bookies look forward to with meetings such as the Grand National festival, the Lincoln, All-Weather Finals day, the Craven meeting and Ayr’s Scottish National weekend.

Johnson added: "It's probably the worst year of the last ten it could have hit.

"There's no doubt there's a lot of people wanting help, and I imagine we'll be at the bottom of the list as that's how these things work.

"With pitches bought and sold a lot will have taken out bank loans. They'll have to pay those down regardless, bookmakers and staff have mortgages to pay.

"It's [coronavirus] forecast to peak in ten to 12 weeks so I fail to see how we can call racing off now and get back when it's escalating. My gut feeling, and I hope to hell I'm wrong, is the end of June is the best we can hope for."

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