Lack of betting interest contributes to Sunday evening racing being axed

Pilot missed target of betting turnover exceeding midweek floodlit fixtures by 10% to 20% as average turnover across six fixtures slid 3%
The post Lack of betting interest contributes to Sunday evening racing being axed first appeared on EGR Intel.  

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has agreed to end its Sunday evening racing pilot partly due to disappointing betting turnover.

The decision was made during a board meeting on 14 May, though the BHA said “the concept should be revisited when circumstances allow”.

The Sunday evening pilot was introduced to the 2024 fixture list last October, a time when betting activity was reported to be strong and with “potential to grow engagement among digital customers”.

Six Sunday evening fixtures were staged between 7 January and 10 March, with each comprising races of Class 3 and below and prize money totalling at least £145,000.

However, the BHA said the fixtures did not meet their published target in terms of betting turnover outperforming midweek (Tuesday to Thursday) floodlit meetings by 10% to 15%.

Average turnover was down 3%, while average digital turnover was 3.6% higher than midweek meetings, with some Sundays performing strongly against midweek and others underperforming.

Five racecourses took part in the pilot across the six fixtures: Wolverhampton, Chelmsford City, Newcastle, Kempton Park and Southwell.

The meetings were “competitive and well-supported” from a racing perspective, the BHA noted, attracting 498 runners across 47 races with an average field size of 10.6 and 91% of races featuring at least eight runners.

Richard Wayman, BHA director of racing and betting, said the decision to test Sunday racing was to see if racing’s income could be boosted, especially among digital customers, but that it was “clear from the outset that this would be challenging”.

He added: “The trial of the six Sunday evening meetings was an informative and worthwhile exercise as we seek to grow engagement with our sport at a time when we face some difficult financial headwinds. We wanted to test the viability of racing in a window that was thought to have the potential to boost racing’s income, especially among digital customers.”

Prize money was inflated to unsustainable levels to artificially create competitive racing, but it still wasn’t compelling enough to generate extra betting turnover. I’m all for trying new initiatives, but this was doomed to fail from the outset. A lose-lose situation all round.

— Jason Brautigam (@DizzyJB) May 20, 2024

Joe Saumarez Smith, BHA chair, said a longer trial could be implemented at a later date to gather additional data due to the small sample size on offer.

Smith explained: “Although we have learnt some valuable lessons from the short trial, having considered the evidence, feedback and the recommendation from the commercial committee, the board has agreed that no further Sunday evening fixtures should be programmed at this stage.

“However, while the pilot did not deliver what we had hoped, there was a recognition of the challenges presented by making a decision based on such a small sample, especially when the data varied so significantly across the fixtures.

“It’s also the case that new concepts, which include behaviour change from the betting public, are likely to take time to settle in.

“The board concluded that the concept of Sunday evening racing is not something that should be dismissed and that it would like a further and longer trial to take place, where circumstances permit, to gather additional data.”

In March, analysis published by the Racing Post found the sport’s online betting turnover plunged £1.75bn in the previous financial year.

The post Lack of betting interest contributes to Sunday evening racing being axed first appeared on EGR Intel.


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