Cheltenham Racecourse makes coronavirus cash call

Cash payments will not be accepted in most areas of Cheltenham Racecourse when horse racing resumes at the venue.

Owners The Jockey Club made the decision due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was communicated to annual members who may be considering renewing ahead of the new season, which is scheduled to start in October.

In a frequently asked questions section sent out to their customers, explaining about rebates if meetings are cancelled and coronavirus precautions such as masks, it read: "It will no longer be possible to pay by cash at Cheltenham Racecourse.

"This includes paying for your membership, additional items or during your visit."

The statement was questioned on social media by several bookmakers.

A crowd trial planned for Glorious Goodwood on August 1, scrapped by the Government at the last minute due to concerns about the Covid-19 infection rate, invited firms to take card-only bets.

On-course layers usually trade in cash, with just a third of British Racecourse Bookmakers Association members having the technology to process debit cards.

A limited number of bookmakers have returned to racecourses this week for the first time since March, to offer a service to owners.

They are able to back horses with both payment methods at meetings such as the Ebor festival, which begins tomorrow behind closed doors.

Central banks and the World Health Organisation have given reassurances over the safety of cash payments.

Research commissioned by GoCompare Money found that a third of UK adults are avoiding using it due to the risk of spreading the virus.

A spokesperson for Cheltenham Racecourse said: “In order to protect our employees and customers from the requirement to handle cash during the Covid pandemic, all admissions, food and drink transactions will be cashless at the racecourse.

"Bookmakers may of course continue to accept cash at their own discretion.

"Discussions are currently taking place between the Racecourse Association and betting operators as to the extent that bookmakers can increase their level of cashless transactions.”

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This year's Cheltenham Festival came under scrutiny for taking place during the pandemic, with an overall attendance of 251,684 over the four days in March.

Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007, told the BBC it was "the best possible way to accelerate the spread of the virus".

The Government said it followed the advice available at the time while Cheltenham Racecourse's medical director added it was not possible to know how – and where – people had contracted the virus.

Members of public are currently not permitted to attend race meetings.

Snooker was the first sport to welcome back a crowd, with a socially-distanced audience of 300 at Saturday's World Championship final.

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