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Bookmakers in the UK have agreed to pay additional fees on existing streaming and data deals until December 2, to provide much-needed financial help for the horseracing sector during the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

The extra revenue from online operators will help racecourses to make up for some of the funding shortfalls caused by the widespread closure of betting shops in the UK and Ireland for the next month. Bookmakers agreed to similar increased pricing in June and July when betting shops were closed.

More than half of racecourses’ revenue comes from spectators, meaning the ongoing ban is crippling the sport – and putting the future viability of courses at risk unless the Government allows their return.

“We are very grateful for the betting industry to agree to paying increased fees for the next month, while most of Britain and Ireland will be locked down. Newbury Racecourse has long enjoyed valued partnerships with bookmakers, and we are of course looking forward to the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival this month,” Julian Thick, CEO of Newbury Racecourse, said.

“This additional funding will be much valued by racecourses but it won’t plug the hole left by lost revenues from LBO closures for the next month. Make no mistake, racecourses are really suffering at the moment, and the return of crowds is absolutely critical to us operating but we are grateful for betting industry’s support throughout the difficulties of the Covid-19 crisis,” Julian Thick added.

The close collaboration is evidence of the betting and gaming industry’s determination to help racing through the crisis. The timely support comes as racing fights to deal with the financial impact of the ban on spectators and the closure of betting shops.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “There has always been a close relationship between betting and racing. So, with the Government’s ongoing Covid restrictions affecting the sport so severely, it’s welcome that bookmakers are stepping up to further support the sport.

“This extra funding for streaming and data rights will undoubtedly help racing’s finances for the next month and I’m delighted to see BGC members assisting the sport in this way.

“We will continue to make the case to the Government that betting shops should be allowed to re-open, in line with the rest of non-essential retail, once the national lockdown ends, and that socially-distanced crowds return to race meetings as soon as possible.

“I’m equally sure that the whole of racing will be making the case ahead of the Government’s gambling review that a healthy betting industry is critical to the future of the sport.”

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