There has been a global expression of sorrow following the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch passed away at the age of 96 on 8 September and, following a period of national mourning, was laid to rest on Monday, 19 September.
Tributes poured in from across the world, including from the UK’s gambling industry. While it is not known if Queen Elizabeth II enjoyed gambling, she had extremely strong links to the horse racing industry, and her love of horses was renowned. She was a patron of The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the figurehead of Royal Ascot.
During the course of her life, the queen attended a huge number of races and bred numerous winning horses. In fact, she enjoyed 1,800 winners. In a 1974 BBC documentary, she can be heard saying, “I enjoy breeding a horse that is faster than other people’s”.
Furthermore, in 2021 she was entered into the British Champions Series hall of Fame as a “special contributor” to horseracing.
Following the announcement of the queen’s death, Joe Saumarez, the BHA chairperson, released the following statement:
“The BHA extends our heartfelt condolences to the royal family and all those affected by this sad news. Racing owes an incalculable debt of gratitude, not only for her majesty’s dedication and commitment to the sport but for her public advocacy of it, something that doubtless has driven the sport’s popularity and attracted a great number of fans. There will be many who work in racing who have enjoyed relationships with her majesty through the training and breeding of her horses and will be grieving. Our thoughts are with them, and of course, the sympathies of all associated with racing are with Her Majesty the Queen’s family on this sad day.”
The Arena Racing Company (ARC) issued a similar statement. The chairman David Thorpe greeted the news of her death with “deep sadness” and expressed “deep gratitude of myself and all at Arena Racing Company for her unwavering support for, and appreciation of, British racing over many decades. May she rest in peace.”
Ahead of the one minute National Moment of Reflection held on Sunday, 18 September, Mecca Bingo announced that it was to be observed in all of its clubs and that the clubs would be closed on the day of the funeral. The company also announced a special donation to its partner charity Carers Trust (founded by Anne, Princess Royal), on behalf of its online community.
When the queen’s death was announced, William Hill closed the doors of its betting shops and issued a statement on social media reading, “We’re saddened to hear of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen. Queen Elizabeth II, our longest reigning monarch, has been an important and steadfast figurehead during times of massive change. We join with the nation in expressing our deepest condolences to The Royal Family.”
Flutter Entertainment, which owns the brands Flutter, PokerStars, Paddy Power, Betfair, FanDuel, and Fox Bet, sent its condolences to the Royal Family with a simple message reading, “We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen. She has dedicated her life to the service of her country and the Commonwealth for over 70 years. Our condolences are with the Royal Family, and we join the nation in mourning their loss.”
Entain, the parent company of brands such as bwin, Coral, Ladbrokes, PartyPoker, and Sportingbet, simply said, “Entain would like to express sincere condolences on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.
Betfred also chose to close its doors upon receiving the news, while Kambi issued a statement reading:
“We often talk of leadership in business, asking ourselves what the attributes of a great leader are. Yesterday, the United Kingdom, Commonwealth, and indeed the globe lost a great leader whose attributes of hard work, sacrifice, and duty inspired millions. Today, Kambi is mourning the loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. We extend our condolences to The Royal Family at this time and also give thanks to Her Majesty for her 70 years of service.”
A number of websites, such as Buzz Bingo and Grosvenor Casino, also chose to put commemorative banners on their websites.
Furthermore, a number of free-to-play gambling apps also paid tribute. For example, Bingo Blitz posted the following on Facebook:
“Bingo Blitz is deeply saddened by the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in Britain’s history. We were always inspired by her Majesty’s ability to influence others and bring people together. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Royal Family and with the people of the United Kingdom.”
The United Kingdom Gambling Commission issued a short statement reading, “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Her Majesty the Queen, and we join the nation in offering our condolences to the Royal Family at this time.”
Similarly, Michael Dugher, the CEO of the Betting and Gaming council, the standards body for the regulated UK gambling industry, issued the following statement:
“Her Majesty has been an unwavering and enduring presence in all of our lives. She embodied the values which are the very bedrock of our national identity – service, sacrifice, and devotion to duty. And her great love of horseracing was just one of the passions she shared with her people. We thank Her Majesty for her remarkable life of service, we mourn her passing, and we send our heartfelt condolences to The King and the Royal Family at this truly sad time.”
The sentiments expressed by the gambling industry have been visible across all sectors of society in the UK and indeed in much of the world. While it is clear that she will be greatly missed, especially at the UK’s horseracing tracks, Queen Elizabeth II left a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come.