Bookies lose millions because of the Queen

The gambling industry’s royal woes grow

The five-day extravaganza that is Royal Ascot has produced a blowout of a different sort for Britain’s bookmakers, thanks to 87-year-old Queen Elizabeth II. First it was her hats. Everyone bets on what colour the Queen will wear at Ascot. On Tuesday, she wore a chapeau that the bookies classified as “pink” but the palace stated was “peach.” Rather than argue with Buckingham Palace, the gambling industry accepted both pink and peach bets.


Then on Wednesday she caught them off guard again, wearing a multihued hat incorporating green, purple and pink.


They took a “trashing,” as the Express said, as they had to pay up on all three colours.

Then came Ladies Day on Thursday. That’s when all woman at Ascot show off their best outfits, and most spectacular hats. The monarch wore purple (William Hill had given it 13-2 odds before Ascot).


But the industry’s royal agony wasn’t over. For the Queen’s filly, Estimate, won the Gold Cup. It was the first time a reigning monarch had won the prestigious race. The betting shops got more pain, paying out on the horse’s 7-2 odds. Though admitting the Queen had cost the gambling industry millions, David Williams of Ladbrokes put a brave face on the red ink, saying that the positive coverage of Ascot will eventually cover the losses: “Racing has a priceless ability to throw up some dream results and we’re happy to join in the celebrations.”



Still, Her Majesty is a happy sovereign. Not only did decades of royal horse breeding pay off with Estimate—the Queen is acknowledged by many in the racing industry to be a breeding expert—but she walked away with a purse valued at $250,000.

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