Demand to take the pitches has been so poor that an advert on the Administration of Gambling on Tracks website was placed today, inviting applications from rails bookmakers who would like to bet on Saturday.
It read: “There is an opportunity for a bookmaker on the Goodwood Main Rails List to bet at the trial raceday on Saturday. This vacancy will be filled in List Position order.
"The successful bookmaker must be prepared to operate cashlessly – i.e. by taking and paying out bets via debit card – and meet other COVID-19 standards.”
Tim Moore, managing director of AGT, said: “We’ve been offered four pitches, but at the moment we’ve only got two bookmakers lined up to go. That’s why we’ve placed the advert on the website.”
He added: “Bookmakers are concerned about the cashless aspect of the raceday.”
Chris Hudson, president of the British Racecourse Bookmakers Association, is not surprised the take-up has been so low.
“We want the raceday to be a success, and of course we fully acknowledge that peoples’ health and safety is of fundamental importance,” he said.
“However, we are concerned about the emphasis on cashless betting. After all, the World Health Organization sees no problems with banknotes.
“It takes considerably longer to bet with a debit card rather than cash. People like to bet with cash at a racecourse.
“I am not at all surprised it is proving a struggle to fill the positions at the racecourse. Quite simply, why would you go to Goodwood on Saturday to be a bookmaker if you can’t take cash?
“We do not want to go down the route of cashless betting. It’s a very worrying time.”
Robin Grossmith, a director of the Federation of British Bookmakers, sought an explanation earlier this week for the decision not to allow cash, and asked for a rethink.
He said: “Only two bookmakers are prepared to go and I understand why. We fear the difficulties with taking card payments may prove insurmountable.
“Two bookmakers are prepared to go and give the customers a service, but we have reservations about the trial proving successful.”
Two of the positions are behind the Tattersalls grandstand, another in front of a bar in Tattersalls adjacent to the Silver Ring, and the fourth at the end of the Silver Ring in the picnic area.