The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) insists that retail betting shops and casinos must be allowed to reopen when the UK begins to exit its most recent national lockdown.
Over 44,000 people in the UK are employed in betting shops and casinos, and the BGC has argued that these businesses are prepared to support the post-lockdown economic recovery, and must be granted the same opportunity to reopen as other sectors.
For betting retailers, the body states that reopening should occur in tandem with non-essential retailers such as high-street clothing outlets, whilst casinos should reopen alongside the hospitality industry, such as restaurants, pubs and clubs.
“As the vaccine roll out continues and the country begins to emerge from lockdown, it is important that businesses are able to plan effectively for reopening,” remarked Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council.
“Ministers must be clear from the outset what the next few months will look like and there should be a consistent approach across the sectors.”
Debbie Husband, the National Director of Operations for Grosvenor UK, stated last week that it is “absolutely vital that casinos remain hitched to the wider hospitality sector”.
The Director further argued that the need for curfew mandates should be removed as the timetable and criteria for emerging from the current lockdown develops.
Dugher continued: “Betting shops must be allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail. Last summer, when most betting shops were able to open, they showed that they have best-in-class anti-COVID measures compared to any other part of the high street to protect customers and staff. It is vital that ministers allow them to play their part in stimulating the high street, along with other non-essential retailers.
“Likewise, casinos are eager to help Britain get back on its feet. The night-time economy has taken a hammering during the pandemic and draconian restrictions, including the 10pm curfew, have made a difficult situation more desperate for many businesses.
“Ministers must allow casinos to reopen at the same time as other hospitality businesses including pubs and they must scrap the curfew. It didn’t work last summer and it won’t work now.
“There will be no let-up in our commitment to safety, but we need the economy to open up again – not least if we are to revive the country’s tax take and fund vital public services like the NHS. But the thousands of people employed in betting shops and casinos deserve nothing less than a level playing field, so that everyone gets the same opportunities to recover.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to deliver a roadmap to the UK’s exit from its third nationwide lockdown on 22 February, as the COVID-19 vaccine continues to roll out across the country.
Despite retail betting shops currently remaining closed, the betting industry is still being propped up by continued horse and greyhound racing, as well as the recent announcement that all Premier League fixtures will remain televised until spectators return.