The plan to ease us all out of lockdown has been announced, and the good news for high street bettors is that their local betting shops will be able to open their doors again from April 12th.
With a little over a month to wait, bookies will be getting ready with hand sanitizer galore, confusing one way systems made out of tape on the floor, and polite notices telling us to keep away from each other.
Bookmakers are classed as ‘non-essential retail’ along with the likes of hairdressers, fashion stores, and gyms, and for those companies that run physical betting locations this news comes not a moment too soon.
Although online business plays a huge role in all betting companies these days, high street shops, especially those in busy locations, still bring in a substantial amount of money, and they cost a lot to keep closed too.
Will the Grand National Date be Changed?
This news, while welcome, is also a bit of a slap in the face for bookies because the opening date is just a week after the Grand National is scheduled to be run.
This is one of the biggest events on the bookmaking calendar, so to miss it by a week after all that has happened would leave a very sour taste in the mouth for bookmakers.
Rumours were circulating that there is talk of pushing the date back to accommodate the easing of lockdown restrictions, although this has now been confirmed as a non starter.
It would have been a great way to kick things off again, but as Dickon White, The Jockey Club’s North West Regional Director said:
“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.”
For the date to be changed, which is not as simple as switching dates around in a few diaries, only to have the virus spike again and the April 17th date pushed back, would be a disaster.
Bingo Halls and Casinos Still Shut
It’s even worse for those in other areas of the gambling industry.
While bookmakers throughout the land may be chomping at the bit, casino workers and those who rely on bingo halls for their income have even longer to wait.
These venues will not be allowed to reopen until a month later, on May 17th, after having been shut since the first lockdown began, so they will be hurting even more than high street bookies.
Still, a couple more months and, with any luck, day to day life will be almost as we left it.