ARC Commits To Bring Betting Back To Life Wavering On-Course Bookie Fees

By waiving the fees for all on-course bookmakers for the remainder of 2020, Arena Racing Company (ARC) has made a promise to bring life back to the betting ring.

The commitment follows the declaration by the government that spectators will be permitted from 2 December to return to live sporting activities in tier one and two regions.

The coronavirus pandemic has been hard hit by on-course bookmakers, with all but a handful unable to function after the first lockout in March. But while spectators are supposed to be restricted for the coming months, ARC’s latest move is likely to be a welcome reprieve.

ARC’s Racing Division Managing Director, Mark Spincer, said: “We were pleased to receive the latest update from Government, and very much look forward to welcoming spectators back to our sites over the coming weeks.

“We await further information regarding regional tiers, and to ascertain which venues we will be able to admit spectators in England, but we are in the process of making sure that racing fans and owners can enjoy the experience of coming racing again as soon as possible, in a safe manner.”

Up to 4,000 spectators or half of their size, whichever is lower, will be permitted for race courses in tier one areas. Those in tier two will, meanwhile have 2,000 spectators, or half of their capacity again.

Spincer added: “Whilst racing behind closed doors has been hugely important for the racing industry, we’re acutely aware of the impact that the restrictions of recent months have had on on-course bookmakers,” Spincer added.

“As such, we will waive the entrance and marketing fees for any of ARC’s 52 horseracing meetings from December 2 to the end of the year at which we can admit spectators.  Equally, we will look at what we can do from January 2021 onwards to work with and support our colleagues in the betting ring.”

The return of spectators would be a major boost for the racing industry, which has been under tremendous financial pressure in recent months owing to the absence of racegoers and the closure of betting shops, resulting in a decline in compensation for media rights.

The decision to accept spectators was supported by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), which is committed to upholding the highest possible safety standards in order to protect local communities from virus transmission.

A famous bookmaker on the course, Keith Johnson, said: “I would like to thank ARC for this support of on-course bookmakers during what has been an incredibly difficult time.  This tangible support will be for the benefit of many in the industry, and will be very much appreciated.

“As restrictions are eased, we can start to look to the future with more confidence and work together to bring a bit of a buzz back to the betting ring once more.”