Tuesday, 2 March 2021

The Jockey Club Maintains Grand National Date Despite Calls For Delay

Grand National Date

The Jockey Club has confirmed that the Grand National will maintain its original scheduled date despite calls from the gambling industry to delay the event.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced as part of his roadmap out of lockdown that betting shops will reopen on April 12th. While the news was welcomed, the industry called for a delay to the Grand National, one of the biggest betting events in the UK, as it’s scheduled to take place on April 10th, two days before betting shops reopen.

Despite calls from the UK gambling industry, The Jockey Club, the owner of Aintree Racecourse where the event takes place, has decided to maintain the Grand National’s original date of April 12th after consulting with stakeholders and analysing the effects of a delay.

Dickon then explained that delaying the event would be risky due to the uncertainty of whether lockdown restrictions will ease in time due to it depending on infection rates. He told iGamingBusiness: “This has been a really difficult time for the retail and on-course betting industry, and we very much hope that retail outlets will reopen on 12 April, but like so much in this pandemic, this is far from certain at this stage.

“The Prime Minister has been clear that timings for lifting restrictions in England are best-case and not guaranteed, while already we know outlets will not be open in Scotland. With timings fluid and several downsides of delay, as well as some upsides that may or may not happen, there is not a solid enough basis to move one of the biggest racing fixtures in the calendar just six weeks out. Therefore, the three-day meeting will remain in its planned 8-10 April slot.”

Shortly after the Jockey Club announced the news, the Betting and Gaming Council, which was one of the main backers of a delay to the Grand National, issued a statement in response.

Michael Dugher, the BGC’s Chief Executive, said: “Whilst we of course respect the decision of the Jockey Club, this news is nonetheless a disappointing blow. Briefly delaying the race could have provided a much-needed boost to racing, to the high street and to millions of punters who support this great sport.”

He continued: “Races are routinely rescheduled, including most recently because of bad weather. Of course, there is always a risk with any decision, but I regret that a ‘can do’ approach did not prevail in this instance. This decision will also surprise many people who understand the challenging financial climate racing currently faces.”

The gambling industry and the BGC has originally suggested for the Grand National to be delayed until after betting shops have reopened to help boost the gambling industry and UK economy. While a delay has to the event has been rebuked, there were suggestions that the Grand National could have been swapped with the Scottish Grand National.

Flutter Entertainment Partners With Made By Sport For New Campaign

Meanwhile, gambling operator Flutter Entertainment has announced its charity initiative Cash4Clubs has partnered with Made By Sport to launch their 2021 Clubs In Crisis campaign fund, made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to CasinoBeats, the campaign has been launched with a donation of £4.79 million by Flutter, and the campaign will offer community sports clubs managed by Made By Sports with funding to help them survive the aftereffects of the pandemic and its associated restrictions.

The Made By Sport charity was founded back in 2019 to raise awareness of the funding for grassroots sports clubs and organisations that work with young people across the country. Through the campaign, the organisation is aiming to provide funding of up to £2,021 to clubs with roles in helping local communities.

Justin King, the Chairman of Made By Sport, said in a statement: “With a quarter of all sports clubs in the UK facing permanent closure, community sport is facing a crisis. As we look to the future and rebuilding our communities, the role of grassroots sports in helping to tackle some of the key social issues exacerbated by the pandemic will be ever more important.

“This fund will reach some of the smallest and hardest hit clubs, and for many, this will be the difference between permanent closure and the chance to continue the great work they do to address the social inequalities that exist in our communities.”

Peter Jackson, the Group CEO of Flutter Entertainment, added: “Lack of funding is not a new issue for community clubs which is why we originally set up our Cash4Clubs programme. But now help is needed more than ever, and working with Made By Sport to provide a fund for ‘Clubs In Crisis’ is a great way for us to pass the benefit of business rates relief straight into the communities where that funding is most needed.”

The news comes after Flutter Entertainment, the owner of brands such as Paddy Power and Betfair, among others, announced last week a ban on credit card payments across Ireland as part of a series of new safer gambling measures. According to the gambling operator, payments via credit cards will be blocked from April across all of its online websites and retail betting shops in the country.

In addition, the operator announced that from May 1st, its brands would no longer advertise during live televised sports games before the 9 PM watershed, excluding horse and greyhound racing.  Finally, the operator announced that by 2023, it would invest 1% of its net gaming revenue from Irish customers into the research, education and treatment of problem gambling.