The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) believes it would be a “huge boost” to the racing and gambling industries if the Grand National was delayed until after betting shops reopen.
The marquee event in the UK horse racing calendar is scheduled to take place on Saturday 10 April at Aintree Racecourse, which would be two days before betting shops in England are able to reopen their doors on 12 April.
Earlier this week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out a four-step plan to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England, which would see non-essential retail, such as betting shops, allowed to reopen on 12 April, if strict conditions are met.
Industry standards body the BGC has called for the Grand National to be pushed back, so that the horse racing and sports betting sectors are able to reap the benefits of a race which sees £125m ($176.8m) staked annually, with nearly half of all bets being placed in high street betting shops.
The body also said aside from it being the busiest day of the year for bookmakers, many punters are unlikely to bet alternatively online and that having the race aligned with customers back in shops would “provide a massive boost to the nation’s morale.”
BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “Delaying the Grand National until betting shops are open is definitely an idea worth exploring.
“Ensuring that the once-a-year punters are able to pop in to their local bookies to have a flutter, supporting their local high street, on the world’s most famous horse race would also help make the Grand National a truly national celebration as we begin to reopen the economy.
“This would also provide a much-needed and timely boost for racing and the high street after such a torrid year for both.”