The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has shown its support for the ‘science-led approach’ taken by the Welsh government, which has allowed betting shops and casinos to reopen their doors following the country’s two week ‘fire break’ lockdown.
As of yesterday, 360 betting shops and four casinos in Wales were given the green light to reopen their doors, with a range of extensive anti-Covid measures already in place to protect visitors.
However in England, all casinos, betting shops, non-essential retail and hospitality are closed as part of the nationwide lockdown, which is due to run until ‘at least’ 2 December.
In a statement, the BGC has warned that some English bookies may not be able to reopen their doors immediately if the country is to return to a tiered lockdown system.
Under Tier 3 measures, bookmakers in England faced similar measures to hospitality venues – meaning that they had to shut their doors to the public despite the Government officially classifying them as ‘non-essential retail’.
Casinos in England were also ordered to close their doors at 10pm in a bid to limit the number of visitors. The decision was met with criticism from across the industry, however, after casinos and betting shops implemented a range of anti-COVID measures such as perspex screens, track and trace systems and strict social distancing.
Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive, commented: “The decision to re-open betting shops and casinos across Wales is hugely welcome and demonstrates the confidence of the Welsh Government in the safety measures they have in place. It means 2,000 staff will now get back to work and our members can get back to serving their customers.
“We are now urging the UK Government to also recognise the lengths to which betting shops and casinos have gone to make sure they are Covid-secure and, when the English lockdown ends, allow them to safely reopen from day one.”
In its statement, the BGC reminded the government that since reopening their doors in the summer, casinos and bookies have ‘operated safely, contributing vital tax revenues to the Exchequer and, in the case of betting shops, millions of pounds to horseracing in levy and media rights payments’.
He implied that while payments that are once again flowing in Wales, similar measures which would allow bookmakers and casinos to reopen their doors should be permitted for the UK.