Time is a great healer-haven’t we all heard that before. These days not only is time a great healer but it is now changing everything we once took for granted. The buzz of excitement around the betting ring, looking for something that will take the plunge and suddenly a row of bookmakers launch into a frenzy of shoulder tapping and waving as if they were guiding a 747 into the ring. In light of the restrictions, the move to the hi-tech info office has begun.
Coral and Ladbrokes have announced that they will no longer be in the ring after parent company GVC announced it was ceasing the operation of all of its 106 racecourse betting pitches.
Trading director, Tom Ritzema, released a statement on Tuesday stating that the decision had “not been taken lightly”, and that the decision was a culmination of several factors.
Ritzema said: “This decision has not been taken lightly, and we are very sad to be calling time on Ladbrokes and Coral’s longstanding presence in the racecourse betting ring.
“GVC remains totally committed to horse racing, with a significant race sponsorship portfolio under the Ladbrokes and Coral brands, and we are the biggest single provider of betting revenues to the sport.”
GVC revealed that terms had been agreed to sell all of its racecourse pitches – 85 in the UK and 21 in Ireland – to John Hooper, who trades under the name Sid Hooper.
There are 17 GVC employees impacted by the decision to close down the racecourse operation, and the company reported a consultation with the affected individuals will begin immediately.
“As the racecourse operation is loss-making and no longer has a strategic purpose, we have regrettably reached the decision to sell our pitches and leave the ring.”
Ritzema added: “Our priority now is the consultation with the 17 members of the team, who between them have provided a fantastic professional service for our customers, and for the company, for many years.
“A number of factors combined to lead us to conclude that a presence in the racecourse betting ring is no longer a strategic imperative for our two UK brands.
“The volume of business taken through the racecourse pitches is minuscule, compared to the volumes generated in our off-course retail and digital businesses, and we no longer use the operation to hedge into the racecourse betting ring.
“As the racecourse operation is loss-making and no longer has a strategic purpose, we have regrettably reached the decision to sell our pitches and leave the ring.
“The current situation with Covid-19, and racing behind closed doors, expedited the decision but was not one of the factors behind it.
“Standing in the betting ring will always be a huge part of both Ladbrokes and Coral heritage and history, and we are immensely proud of that. However, the betting landscape has changed immeasurably in recent years, and we need to change with it.
“We would like to wish John Hooper the best of fortune with our pitches, going forward.”