The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the government’s decision to move the UK into the final phase of lockdown.
Last night, PM Boris Johnson confirmed that the government would maintain its timetable and end ‘almost all’ COVID-19 social and business restrictions from Monday 19 July.
Despite the UK recording +70,000 cases of the Delta Variant, PM Johnson stated confidence that England could return to its ‘closest version of pre-pandemic normalcy’.
The BGC welcomed Downing Street’s decision as a further boost to a recovering hospitality sector, as casinos and bookmakers will no longer have to enforce social distancing or the compulsory wearing of facemasks.
“We strongly welcome the Government’s intention to remove the remaining COVID restrictions on July 19, which will provide a much-needed boost to the economy,“ said BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher.
“It is particularly good news for hospitality venues like casinos and their staff, as the businesses have had to endure many, many months of closure and crippling restrictions.”
Despite the positive developments, the BGC continues to underline the precarious conditions of the UK casino sector’s recovery – which prior to the pandemic had employed 11,600 people and contributed £500 million a year to the Treasury in tax.
The BGC has urged ministers to ‘safely ease’ restrictions on travel, to help kickstart tourism a vital dynamic for the hospitality sector wider recovery.
“We would also like to see further progress on foreign travel, given that, for example, London’s casinos contribute £120m to the capital’s tourism sector,” Dugher remarked.
UK gambling enters a critical second-half of year, in which the industry will face the sweeping judgements of the government’s generational review of the 2005 Gambling Act.
Dugher reminded ministers of the all-round contribution of a much-scrutinised betting sector that “supports 46,000 jobs and paid nearly £1 billion in tax to the Treasury in 2020”.
Helping UK society return to normalcy, the BGC supports the lifting of capacity crowds at race meetings, in which licensed bookmakers have ploughed £350 million into racing through media rights, sponsorship and the betting levy.
“This is great news for the much-loved sports that the regulated betting industry helps sustain – from racing, football, rugby league, snooker and darts,” Dugher concluded.
“The absence of crowds has been a bitter blow and I can’t wait to see venues safely operating at full capacity once again.”