Posted on: April 14, 2021, 08:33h.
Last updated on: April 14, 2021, 08:33h.
Last Saturday’s Grand National steeplechase at Aintree was the UK’s biggest ever online sports betting event, as a unique set of circumstance helped it outstrip even the soccer World Cup final for digital wagering.
The Aintree stands may have been deserted, but around nine million Brits tuned in on television to watch Rachael Blackmore become the first female jockey to win the grueling four-mile, 30-fence race. She won on Minella Times at odds of 11-1.
The Grand National has long been a huge gambling event in the UK, attracting the “one-bet-a-year” demographic.
It’s the kind of day when it’s socially acceptable for even the primmest of grandmammas to shuffle to her nearest bookmaker’s shop to “lump a tenner on,” in the vernacular.
But this year, Granny had to go online, as did the roughly one third of the populace that bets on the race each year. Britain’s land-based bookies reopened Monday — all 6,000-odd of them — for the first time since December, even earlier in some regions. But it was too late to catch the famous old race.
£100 Million Across the Board
According to Flutter Entertainment, which owns big UK-facing brands like Paddy Power, Betfair, and SkyBet, over £100 million ($137.4 million) was bet on the National across the entire industry.
Entain, which also owns Ladbrokes and Coral, said more than 150,000 customers visited its websites every minute during the race.
This year’s Grand National event saw record-breaking betting volumes for our UK brands and huge customer excitement in line with the thrilling outcome,” Dominic Grounsell, who heads Sports Brands at Entain, told Reuters.
Online-only site 888 reported three times as many bets as in 2019.
Grand National Goes Virtual
There was plenty of pent-up demand. Last year’s Grand National would have come at the peak of Britain’s first wave had it not been canceled and replaced with a virtual version.
The virtual race was impressive — and popular — generating 4.8 million viewers and raising £2.6 million for the National Health Service and the fight against Covid. But you can’t beat the real thing.
The length of the race and the number of fences, many of which are unusually high, are part of the attraction. They add an element of chaotic luck to the race, sometimes creating winners at very long odds.
“…On the biggest betting day of the year Rachael [Blackmore’s] mount was extremely well-backed by plenty of her fans across the country,” Coral spokesman David Stevens told The Press and Journal.
“In making Aintree history, she’s also sparked the biggest ever pay-out on a female rider, but we’ll be paying out with a smile because her achievement is incredible, and worth its weight in gold to the sport of horse racing.”