Huge payout for NHS charities thanks to bets on 2020 Virtual Grand National
More than £2.6 million was raised for NHS charities through betting on Saturday's Virtual Grand National.
And the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the standards body for betting and gaming, hopes that total will grow as winning punters donate some or all their payouts.
Announcing the betting profit (after winnings and duties are paid) to be handed to NHS Charities Together, BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: "We are overwhelmed with the public support for the Virtual Grand National and the support shown for NHS Charities Together.
"When the nation was in much need of some light relief, millions joined in the fun in honour of one of Britain's greatest sporting events and helped raise a fantastic amount for our brave heroes in the NHS.
"The country is going through what is little short of a nightmare at the moment, so it was heartwarming to see pictures on social media of so many people enjoying themselves watching the excellent ITV and Carm Productions programme that had such impressive viewing figures."
The Virtual Grand National— Ed Chamberlin (@chamberlinsport) April 5, 2020
- 4.8 million watched on tv
- £2.6 million raised for the NHS
- some v funny posts on Twitter
Well done the “racing family”
A peak audience of 4.8 million saw Potters Corner win the virtual race, which represented 30 per cent of those watching TV at the time.
"I'm sorry we couldn't have the real Grand National to find out if Potters Corner would have won or whether it would have been an historic hat-trick for Tiger Roll, but at this time of need the nation used the day to come together and back our NHS," said Dugher.
"It's also fantastic that the Jockey Club will be donating 10,000 tickets to the NHS and social care sector in Merseyside for the first day of the 2021 Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree."
The BGC also added that profits on bets placed in Ireland would be donated to Irish charities, including the Irish Red Cross.
Coral spokesman David Stevens added: "We had no idea how popular the Virtual Grand National would be as it was a completely unique situation but throughout Saturday it became apparent that millions of people were still having their annual flutter on this famous race.
"The average stake per bet worked out at just over £2, which showed this virtual National really hit the spot in terms of providing a fun, one-off betting opportunity for so many people, and most importantly, all those small bets added up to a fantastic donation to NHS Charities Together. We are all seeing on a daily basis the amazing work the NHS are doing right now, so it's entirely fitting that they are the real winners of this year's virtual Grand National.
"The icing on the cake for us at Coral was watching the Coral Welsh Grand National winner Potters Corner win the race! Fingers crossed he can come back and win it for real in 2021, something he is 40-1 to do."
Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes added: "The Virtual Grand National has been an incredible success and that is reflected in the fantastic sum of money raised for the NHS Charities Together.
"With the Grand National cancelled along with all major sports, we really hoped that the virtual version would bring the nation together for some light relief during these difficult times and that is exactly what happened."
More 2020 Virtual Grand National news:
Bookmakers have pledged to donate any profits from betting on the Virtual Grand National to the NHS Charities COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. You can donate to this important cause here