Bookmakers are very much back to business this week with the reopening of betting shops just in time for Royal Ascot and tomorrow’s resumption of the Premier League.
The likes of Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment Plc (LON:FLTR), William Hill Plc (LON:WMH) and Ladbrokes owner GVC Holdings Plc (LON:GVC) will all get much more insight into the nature of their ‘new normal’ over the coming days as crowdless sporting events ramp up significantly this week.
Today is day one of Royal Ascot, one of the premier weeks of racing in the calendar, and, tomorrow brings the first two fixtures in the Premier League’s resumption, dubbed in the media as either ‘project restart’ or ‘the festival of football’.
Such events will provide a quick litmus test for gambling businesses which have been so desperate for things to wager on that companies earlier in lockdown operated virtual reality horse and greyhound races.
The real thing steps up a gear this week, however.
Shops reopened on Monday – with social distancing measures, including limiting numbers and introducing time limits for customers, along with installed protective equipment and santiser dispensers.
Domestic horse racing has been back for a number of weeks though the start of Ascot marks a increase in calibre. As racing gets underway the empty grandstands will be a starkly contrasted bookend to the controversial scenes at Cheltenham in mid-March.
Today’s racing is followed by Aston Villa vs Sheffield United at 6:00pm in the Premier League and a subsequent 8:00pm kick-off, Manchester City vs Arsenal.
This will be the start of the so-called festival of football, which will see 92 games broadcast to Britain’s betting public.
Premier League fixtures running back-to-back until late July will be followed by the completion of the FA Cup and subsequently European competitions (Champions League and Europa).
After the void of recent months, suddenly there’s likely to be a significant increase in activity for the gaming sector.