Racing Post and SIS have cancelled this year’s Betting Shop Manager of the Year competition due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the retail bookmaking industry. The event, the nomination and judging process for which was due to begin last week, normally runs throughout the summer with 48 candidates whittled down to a final eight with the winner crowned at an awards ceremony in November.
Due to the current shutdown, all non-essential shops, including high street betting outlets, across Britain and Ireland are currently closed.
Both Racing Post and SIS, who have sponsored the event for over 30 years, have furloughed large numbers of employees as a consequence of the lack of racing and sport around the world. The shutdown has resulted in Racing Post temporarily stopping the publication of the industry’s daily newspaper.
Sandra Gilmartin was named 2019 Racing Post/SIS Betting Shop Manager of the Year last November, giving Paddy Power their first success in the competition. Sandra will continue her ambassadorial role throughout 2020 in the absence of a new winner.
Explaining the cancellation and the uncertainty the industry faces, Racing Post Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief Alan Byrne said: “It is hugely disappointing that we have to cancel this year’s Betting Shop Manager of the Year. However, our first thought is the safety of those involved. With the current restrictions in place, including betting shop closures, it is simply not feasible to run a competition that also involves shop visits and one-to-one interviews.
Byrne continued: “When the various government measures are lifted, the first focus of retail bookmakers will be on the health and wellbeing of staff and customers alike. It is important that we all work together to ensure everyone in our industry is safe, and then we can begin to get all our businesses back to their best. Once we come out the other side of this pandemic, we will be in a better place to celebrate the people who are the backbone of the retail bookmaking industry.”
Echoing Alan Byrnes words, SIS Chief Executive, Richard Ames said: “The opportunity to help stage the competition and annual awards is one of the highlights for everybody here – it is particularly disappointing not to be able to look forward to that this year.
“Of course, we all hope our staff, customers and friends can safely emerge from this challenge and I know there will be huge enthusiasm to resume Betting Shop Manager of the Year come 2021. That will indeed be something to look forward to.”