How has Pandemic Affected Horse Racing Betting?
The pandemic has had stormy and devastating effects on many industries. For example, the currency exchange sector has fallen by 14%, the social media industry has declined by 22%, and unfortunately, horse racing betting has also been affected. While previous years had seen multiple successful races, the COVID-19 pandemic halted all horse races that were scheduled for 2020.
A few weeks before the shutdown, the fabulous Cheltenham Festival was held in which more than a quarter of a million bettors participated in and the sports betting companies reached an agreement to boost the sports betting industry. However, they did not know that this convention would be in jeopardy after the UK shut down all sporting activities to limit the pandemic outbreak.
In addition to the heavy losses incurred by the organizers and sports betting companies, the jockeys, coaches, and breeders bear the largest share of losses as they had to continue paying the training fees, utility bills, and rents despite not having the financial resources to cover the expenses; Just covering the expenses was a distant dream in 2020! However, while many jockeys and breeders get financial support, workers and people who worked in low-ranking positions for limited salaries certainly had a tough time during the shutting down period. In other words, the negative impact included all workers in this industry, especially the poor workers.
What Is the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the Sports Betting Industry?
Sports betting is one of the most important sectors in the British economy with an annual value of 650 million pounds and more than 100,000 employees. So, the suspension of sports activity has caused huge losses to both tax sector and industry workers alike.
The Grand National was the biggest race to be cancelled during the shutdown period, had this race been held under normal circumstances it would have generated £250m profit only from bets not to mention broadcast contracts, sponsorship, advertising, and ticket sales, but this loss is the only tip of the iceberg!
Online bookmakers attempted clutching at straws by introducing virtual horse races to compensate for the races being cancelled. Indeed, this genius trick worked as the virtual horse races attracted more than 5 million bettors from Britain and around the world and brought in profits of 3 million pounds.
During the quarantine period, bettors did not find a way to be entertained except sports betting sites and online casinos, which increased in demand significantly. So, these sites found a golden opportunity to attract new customers, which encouraged the bookmakers to offer various offers and rewards to the newcomers.
Fans and bettors were expecting a strong return to horse racing to mark the happy end of 2020 filled with gloom, angst, and loneliness, yet it was just the opposite! Horse racing prizes have been halved as many sponsors withdrew due to heavy losses they suffered during the lockdown. Further to this, the organizers and caterers didn’t get any profit because the races were taking place behind closed doors without the audience present. Although all parties are working hard to relive sports glory days soon, this return represents a challenge for all parties!
Bettors Habits Have Been Changed!
Undoubtedly, the circumstances caused by the pandemic have changed the habits of British sports bettors. The most remarkable feature is that bettors are no longer accepting conventional betting shops like Ladbrokes or Coral Group, whose profits have fallen by 50% during 2020 and early 2021.
Bettors have adapted to the quarantine and resort to online sports betting and have finally discovered that virtual bookies outperform their brick and mortar counterparts; Online bookmakers offer a larger selection of betting markets, lucrative bonuses, provide top notch support, accept a variety of secure payment options, and offer both regular and virtual sports.
According to a report published by the UKGC, horse racing and football make up 75% of the British sports betting industry, but in the absence of these sports competitions, online betting sites offered virtual sports that perfectly compensated for the absence of the real sport.
What Is the Current Situation?
At the moment we can say that all sports have almost completely recovered from the stumble, but sports bettors still prefer online bookmakers. According to the British Games Commission, the number of sports betting sites customers increased by 115% to reach 217.5 million pounds by the middle of 2021. On the other hand, William Hill announced that it would permanently close 120 of its headquarters and had a plan to offer its services online but, apparently, that it has not yet been implemented. In short, the bookmakers who have not adapted to the post-corona world may not get a foothold in this highly competitive industry!
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