Sunday shift for Ladbrokes

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After a change of policy, Ladbrokes will open "a very small number" of their betting shops this Sunday.

Britain's largest bookmaker claims to have lost money in opening its offices on previous Sundays this year due to poor off-course turnover. As a result, each of the 1,900 Ladbrokes betting shops remained closed for business for the last Sunday racing on 13 August.

But this weekend punters in some areas will be able to bet with Ladbrokes on action from Redcar and Goodwood. The latter is to be televised by the BBC and features a top juvenile race in the Prestige Stakes and the March Stakes, a St Leger trial.

The firm's spokesman, Paul Austin, said: "The majority of our shops will be closed, as opening cost us a quarter of a million pounds each Sunday. But where we have shops in very competitive situations they will open."

Warwick Bartlett, chairman of the British Betting Offices' Association, representing independent bookmakers, said: "I think that in a small number of shops Ladbrokes have lost market share so they have decided to open. I've got a friend who has Ladbrokes shops on either side and when they didn't open on the last Sunday his business went up by 200 per cent - but that only meant he took 90 bets instead of 30."