Bookmakers are offering cautious odds on the Olympics reviving punters’ enthusiasm after weeks of rain-hit racing schedules.
With Leicester alone having to call off five meetings, and Worcester and Ffos Las among others affected by the deluge of rain, the final cost to the bookmaking industry has been put at an estimated £3 million.
Bookmakers suffered because the uncertainty of going changes, horse withdrawals and race abandonments meant that punters were less likely to place bets. It is hoped some drier weather – and the Olympics – will bring them out again.
Coral is predicting a £50 million betting boom, reporting that one in eight Brits have had a flutter on the Games – and three million of them are new to gambling. But the company’s optimism is not universally shared.
Steve Templeman, director of Jenningsbet, which has more than 100 shops in London and the south, as well as a thriving online business, is one of those reporting Olympic interest.
He said: “The Olympics don’t usually bring in much business at all for us but this year, it’s different. We’ve had interest in the British competitors like Mo Farah, Chris Hoy and Jessica Ennis. And people have been betting on the 100m because the margins have changed since Yohan Blake beat Usain Bolt in the Jamaican trials recently.”
Templeman said Jenningsbet’s shops in East London have benefited from Olympic visitors. “We’ve also been offering enhanced double bets, such as on Ennis and Tom Daley, and they’ve gone down well,” he added.
Leicester bookmaker Charles Needham, of Tremayne Racing, said: “We’re expecting a lot more betting as the football gets underway but not in the other sports. One of the main reasons we’re hoping for better weather is that it gets people out and about and they’re more likely to come into the shop!”