Even on a normal day it’s a sure bet that there will be considerable activity across the whole range of betting and gaming platforms in the UK. Whether it’s betting on this or that in a high street bookies or poker fans pitting their wits against each other online, the British continue to have a healthy, fun love of gambling.
But tomorrow isn’t a ‘normal’ day. And not will Sunday be. Indeed, UK gambling companies are bracing themselves for what promises to be a record-breaking weekend, with a perfect storm of sporting events taking place.
The frenzied action will start with tomorrow’s Grand National, a horse race like no other, which sees even those who don’t place a single bet for the rest of the year getting involved. This event alone is predicted to generate more than £150 million in bets.
And the bookies could be off to a bad start to a massive weekend if one of the favourites emerges victorious, because so many punters – the vast majority of whom have little or no idea about the sport – tend to put their money on the most hotly fancied runners. An amazing statistic is that about half of the adult population in the UK and Ireland place a bet on the Grand National, with the average stake last year being roughly £2.50 (€3).
Perhaps the most popular choice this year will be ‘whichever horse’ last year’s history-making winning jockey Rachael Blackmore rides. Given that this is one of the favourites, the prospect of history repeating itself for the in-form trailblazer for women in sport (last month she also became the first female jockey to win the coveted Cheltenham Gold Cup…) is a nightmare scenario for the bookmakers. Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes: ‘Rachael Blackmore and Minella Times are the Grand National dream team and the thought of her making it a double is giving our traders sleepless nights…’ Odds for Blackmore’s mount have been shortening, but this probably won’t stop the horse being the so-called housewives’ favourite by the time the Starter’s flag comes down.
Meanwhile, Aintree won’t be the only place of sporting interest. Across the Pond, in Augusta in the US, The Masters, an already major golf event, has garnered even more attention than usual thanks to the inimitable Tiger Woods confounding just about everyone but himself with a surprise return (and he didn’t disappoint his fans, putting in an impressive first round).
Topping off a threesome of global sporting fixtures that should make this weekend the busiest two days of betting this year is a crucial match at the top of the English Premier League, with the mighty Manchester City hosting their seemingly unstoppable title-chasing rivals Liverpool in what could be a decisive clash of football titans. An amazing run by Liverpool has seen City’s lead cut to a solitary point. The statistics of these two teams, both way ahead of the rest, are impressive indeed. Not only have they racked up more points in the last five years than any other team in the world’s favourite football league, but each has scored over 400 goals in that time, too. Meanwhile – and perhaps not surprisingly, given their dominance – they both top the tables in terms of defence, conceding the fewest goals. Indeed, these are the only two teams in the Premier League to concede fewer goals than matches played since the 2017/2018 season…
Another betting bonanza can be expected, then, topping off a big money weekend for UK punters. Nicola McGeady: ‘With betting shops back open for the race this year, we are going to be extremely busy. Add into the mix the clash between Manchester City v Liverpool plus the Masters at Augusta, and this weekend has all the ingredients to attract record turnover.’
The timing couldn’t be better for the industry, with Entain (which also owns Coral) seeing revenue 31 per cent higher than this time last year for the three months up to the end of March.
Good luck to those of you having a flutter on the weekend’s sport, and have fun at the poker tables…