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Virtual Grand National Raises Millions for NHS

April 07, 2020

- Grant Whittington

If any one party of trade is pulling together in a show of commendable humanity in the global fight against the coronavirus, than that would have to be the bookies. Online bookmakers, despite they themselves facing unprecedented uncertainty because of nearly every major sports event across the globe having been cancelled for what certainly feels like the rest of the year, are making things work in order to be able to give all that they can to support the NHS.

UK bookies are donating profits to the tune of £2.6 million (a conservative figure) generated by the online bets wagered on the weekend past’s Virtual Grand National horse race. The allocated funds to be donated will be made available to the NHS Charities Together organisation. Bettors in the UK as well as those resident in Ireland were at liberty to wager on the virtual event. The funds generated from bets wagered in Ireland will be gifted to local Irish Charities, of which the Irish Red Cross will be one of the main beneficiaries.

All 40 Runners Featured

The virtual race was made possible with the support of historical real-race data, CGI and various algorithms. The technical aspect was managed by Inspired Entertainment and the race featured all 40 of the actual runners supposed to have competed in the race scheduled to have been run at Aintree. The real race was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

The ITV event draw a record number of viewers that ultimately formed an audience of 4.3 million people, which figure marks an incredible six-fold increase when compared to 2019’s virtual race viewership numbers. This landmark success is yet again proof of what may be achieved when human compassion and technology come together for the greater good of those in dire need.

Potters Corner Wins The Race

The event was won by none other than the virtual persona of Potters Corner. And trainer Christian Williams told BBC Sport that there couldn’t possibly have been more excitement going around in his home than at the time of that particular win. UK sports bookies all over the country offered bet-lines on the race, accepting wagers on who the ultimate winner would be. The race was broadcast nation-wide on ITV.

As mentioned earlier on, the ultimate victor proved to be Potters Corner, who came in at first place at odds of 18-1. Walk In The Mill stole the second-place show at odds of 16-1, and Any Second Now finished in third-place position at 10-1. The combination of brand action and support was what ultimately made it a reality that a massive sum of money could be raised for the benefit of those fighting the coronavirus right on enemy-lines. UK Betting and Gaming Council Chief Executive Michael Dugher has described the level of support levied by the public as overwhelming.

Success Despite Losses

The event proved a smashing success and will certainly go far in offsetting the monetary disappoint of what could have been achieved and raised had the actual live event been in a position to continue unhindered.

The estimated $500 million loss suffered by bookies and the industry at large as a direct result of the cancellation remains a tragedy. The sports betting industry is reeling under the pressure created by mass cancellations of global sports events and many bookies are now resorting to accepting bets on a variety of virtual sports events, including horse racing, ATP tennis and even table tennis. We’re bound to see a great deal more races of Saturday’s virtual variety as the industry continues to suffer the crippling effects of covid-19 and a global health pandemic.

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