The appetite for betting in cash was apparent at this weekend’s Ebor Festival, with one of the two on-course bookmakers only taking 3% of bets via card.
As part of a two-week trial, two bookies were given the green light to offer betting services for the owners at York Racecourse during the four-day festival.
Between them, Joe Huddlestone and Keith Johnson took ten bets via card at the meeting, with the majority of punters opting for cash payments.
Reported by The Guardian, Johnson said: “If there was ever a time when the card machine was gonna get a hammering, it was this week and it hasn’t.
“Between the two of us, over 97% of bets were cash. So I think it’s quite obvious that when we do get back to some sense of normality, racecourses have got to realise that the choice is clear and people want to bet in cash.”
Johnson’s pitch took 44 bets on Wednesday, 35 on Thursday, 12 on Friday and 23 on Saturday, with the bookie stating that the card machine was ‘still pristine’ on Friday.
— Keith Johnson (@uwgs55) August 21, 2020
Huddlestone told The Racing Post that his contactless device also remained largely untouched – pointing out that the use of card betting for on-course bookmakers would not be viable in the long-term.
“There have been very few bets placed with cards, fortunately from our point of view,” he said, adding: “We were very well received by people, including some trainers who wanted to speak to us, and it was great to be at York again.
“From a business point of view it wouldn’t be workable in the long term but at least it has got racecourse bookmakers noticed again.”
Johnson shared a similar view, adding that on-course betting without the crowds is not a sustainable business model: “It’s obvious that, without crowds, it’s just not viable for bookmakers. Possibly York may not have been a typical experiment because I think they look after the owners extremely well. Perhaps at some other tracks, like the Sedgefield we might go to this week, they might have a different kind of owner who wants to come out and have a bet.”