‘Another step towards normality’ as Scottish betting shops reopen

Scottish retail betting shops are reopening their doors to customers today (26 April) after four months of inactivity due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

The safe reopening of Scotland’s high street betting outlets has been described as ‘another step towards normality’ for the industry, its employees, bettors and the British economy in general by Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

Around 750 retail betting shops will resume trading again today, providing employment for over 4,000 people and contributing roughly £80 million in tax and £6 million in business rates.

“Following the safe re-opening of betting shops in England and Wales earlier this month, Scottish shops getting back to business is another step towards normality and a welcome boost for jobs on the high street in Scotland,” Dugher remarked.

“It’s great news for their staff and customers, and of course it is an important source of funding for horse racing. As we look forward to a great summer of sport, Scottish punters will once again be able to safely enjoy a flutter on the high street.”

Bookmakers will implement a range of coronavirus infection prevention measures, such as hand sanitisation stations and Perspex screens in between customers and staff, in addition to requirements introduced by the Scottish Government.

Safeguarding measures will include the switching off of gaming machines, a decreased television volume and a requirement for all customers to provide contact details for the NHS track and trace service.

The reopening of Scottish outlets comes two weeks after betting shops in England and Wales were permitted to resume active trading – a move described as ‘great news’ by Dugher – albeit with similar extensive safety and hygiene measures, to ensure the health of customers and reduce the risk of infection. 

Additionally, the BGC has reiterated the significant financial contribution made by the betting and gaming industry to the British economy, as well as its status as a major source of employment.

The standards agency recently published the findings of a study by Ernest & Young, which showed that the UK economy received £7.7 billion in gross added value from the betting sector in 2019.

Additionally, the industry provides employment for over 61,000 people and generates 58,000 jobs via its supply chain, whilst significant monetary contributions are also made to the British sporting space.

Overall, around £40 million was received by the English Football League (EFL) and its member clubs from betting industry sources, in addition to over £10 million contributed to darts and snooker and over £2.5 million for rugby league. 

The most significant financial support is received by horse racing, however, which benefits from around £350 million through the betting levy, media rights agreements and sponsorship arrangements.

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