Irish horse racing has made a grand return this month – ending a near 3 month hiatus for Ireland’s racing fans. The first fixture kicked off at Naas with a strict set of safety precautions to combat the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
In March, races were still being conducted behind closed doors – but the government suspended all sports across the country in the same month. There was hope that races would be resumed in mid-April – but that was also pushed back.
Races have been ongoing behind closed doors in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong since the beginning of the pandemic. Racing has also started to recommence in many other countries, including Germany and France.
Horse Racing and Covid-19
Horse Racing Ireland has published a revised fixture list for June/July – with all confirmed races up until the beginning of August. However, schedules may alter based on virus activity.
In preparation for the return to the tracks, HRI also published a detailed 77-page document on how future racing would be conducted.
The most notable change is that all future races will be behind closed doors – with limited spectators at the venue.
There are also many other changes to races including:
● Health checks and temperature screenings – Any participant with an elevated temperature will be prohibited from joining races.
● Mandatory Face Coverings – jockeys, stalls handlers, medical professionals and security staff will need to wear some form of a mask or facial protection.
● Social Distancing at Venues – A dedicated coronavirus protocol officer will enforce 2-meter distancing at all fixtures
● Hygiene Changes – Surfaces will be disinfected regularly – and all venues will be thoroughly ventilated.
In addition to these changes, over 70s will be unable to attend race fixtures. HRI is hosting a series of new webinars that will allow customers to understand the changes that will be taking place for the future.
Fears for Gamblers during Pandemic
There have been fears across the globe that the lockdown would lead to an uplift in online gambling, which includes online casinos and slot games, which are readily accessible on the internet across hundreds of sites.
To combat these fears, gambling authorities have put in safeguards to protect consumers during the lockdown. In Sweden, deposit limits were enforced on all casinos in the country. While the UK Gambling Commission published new guidance to online sites for problem gambling.
However, it seems the availability of online casinos has tempted dedicated sports fans. The UKGC reported no upsurge in problem gamblers during the lockdown. While new studies suggest that sports bettors have not turned to casinos at all – as previously first feared.
The collaborative study investigated 5,396 gamblers and their betting habits up until the 30th of April. The data suggests that the closing down of sports also led these gamblers to seek entertainment outside of online gambling.