Racing: Late opening criticised

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TIM DEVLIN, the Conservative MP for Stockton South, claimed yesterday that the Government is likely to give in to requests from the major bookmakers for the evening opening of betting shops.

Devlin, a critic of the campaign for an extension of shop hours by the Betting Office Licensees' Association, which has Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill among its members, claimed that the move would be 'to the detriment of independent bookmakers, greyhound racing and betting-shop staff'.

The British Betting Office Association, which represents the smaller bookies, has mounted a counter-campaign and a decision on evening opening is widely expected from the Home Secretary within the next few weeks.

Less imminent is parliamentary reform of the Sunday trading laws which would pave the way for off-course betting on the Sabbath. Lack of parliamentary time is hindering progress and the issue may not come before the Commons until the next parliamentary year.

What is certain is that trotting in Britain is set to come under Jockey Club control within the next month. It will outline its reasons for taking trotting on board and the implications for horse racing within the next month.

Today's card at Kelso is off because of snow. Wetherby, due to race tomorrow, and Edinburgh (Friday) were also under snow yesterday morning but this had melted by the afternoon. No problems are reported at tomorrow's other venues, Lingfield and Wincanton.