Sportsbook Grand National Winnings Go to Charity as Race Future in Doubt

Posted on: April 13, 2022, 05:43h. 

Last updated on: April 13, 2022, 12:05h.

Several charitable organizations in the UK received bonuses following the recent Grand National race. However, they may not be able to count on them again, depending on the outcome of the country’s gambling law review.

Grand National
Alpha Des Obeaux falls at the Grand National at Aintree in April 2018. If the UK isn’t careful with its gambling regulation reform, its entire racing industry could end up in the same position. (Image: Sky News)

Sports betting operators made a deal ahead of this past weekend’s Grand National horse race at Aintree. Some members of parliament (MP) placed wagers, knowing that the winnings were to go to charity.

The BGC arranged the initiative ahead of the race, inviting MPs to place wagers with the promise of giving the money to charities. The plan worked, with several MPs answering the call.

The campaign’s goal was to raise money for charities while demonstrating the role the sports betting space plays in the economy. After the race, the sportsbooks increased the ante, including Paddy Power, William Hill, Ladbrokes, and others. They each donated an additional £250 (US$324) to the MPs’ selected charities.

The books dutifully turned over the winnings. But Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) members also sweetened the pot. The charities will each receive additional money from those sportsbooks’ own pockets. However, if champion trainer John Gosden is correct, deals of this nature may become extinct.

BGC Members Show Community Support

Among those who placed a bet were Guy Opperman, a former jockey and current shadow DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) minister, and Alex Davies-Jones, the shadow minister for Technology, Gambling and Digital Economy. Others participated, as well. However, how much they collectively wagered is unavailable.

Betting shops are a huge employer and do so much to support hard-pressed high streets and local economies. It was great to see MPs from across the political divide visiting bookies across the country, all in aid of good causes,” states BGC boss Michael Dugher.

The BGC also wanted to focus on legal betting as the UK transforms its gambling laws. Assertions that problem gambling is out of control, the driver of the changes, aren’t grounded in science.

UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) data shows that the problem gambling rate tied to sports betting is only 0.3%. This is half of what it was in 2020.

Gambling Review: ‘Bullet Between the Eyes’

Proposed reforms to the UK’s gambling laws are coming, more than likely in the next few weeks. There have been rumors and unconfirmed details about the reforms, and the proposals are creating concern for the gaming industry.

Horse racing could suffer the most, according to John Gosden. The horse trainer believes the updated gambling laws will be a “bullet between the eyes” for horse racing in the UK, according to Racing Post.

With four championships to his name, Gosden asserts that the racing segment is already witnessing a decline in public support. Add to this the proposed affordability checks, reduction in advertising, and stricter sponsorship rules, and he believes it will lead to the demise of the segment.

We have a gambling review white paper coming right down the road like a bullet between the eyes. To me, I’m not interested in gambling. But without it, we don’t exist,” states John Gosden.

Racing Post adds that, following a financial analysis of the proposed gambling reform, the racing industry in the UK stands to lose over £100 million (US$129.91 million) each year. That would be too big a blow from which it could recover.

One solution would be to increase international interest in UK horse race betting. Some initiatives, such as the UK Tote’s collaboration with the Hong Kong Jockey Club in the World Pool, will help. However, if the gambling reform implements too many restrictions, the internationalization efforts of UK horse racing will be moot.