K betting shops and casinos closed Friday after being listed in a number of establishments asked to shut their doors by the Government. Also, Members of Parliament have implored online gambling firms to impose a temporary betting cap of £50 a day during the Covid-19 crisis, as evidence emerged that they are pushing punters towards riskier wagers in the absence of mainstream sport.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that nightclubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres should close from Friday night to slow the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure. Betting shops and casinos were included in that list.
At his daily Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said the measures were needed to reduce "unnecessary" social gatherings by 75 percent in order to have an impact on the infection rate.
"The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now and that means we have to take the next steps on scientific advice," he said, as reported by the Irish Mirror. "And following our plan we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday. We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us."
Johnson said the restrictions would be reviewed on a monthly basis as he appealed to people to stay at home "as far as possible". A full list of affected venues affected by the shutdown was tweeted by the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, mentioning betting shops, bingo halls, casinos, spas, museums and galleries.
A statement from GVC, the owner of Ladbrokes Coral, read: "In line with this afternoon's Government announcement we will be temporarily shutting all Ladbrokes Coral shops in the UK from the close of business tonight. It is very welcome to now have clarity and reassurance from the Government on this serious matter, as the safety and well-being of our colleagues and customers is of paramount importance."
Furthermore, in a letter to industry trade body Betting & Gaming Council, MPs in a cross-party group examining gambling-related harm urged firms not to put protection of their finances before customers’ wellbeing. “We are deeply concerned that as we go deeper into this crisis, more and more people will turn to online gambling as a distraction,” wrote Labour’s Carolyn Harris, the Conservatives’ Iain Duncan Smith and SNP MP Ronnie Cowan.
“If the industry were to self-impose a daily limit of £50 … it would be a clear demonstration that the industry is willing to act responsibly and do what they can to protect society and peoples’ finances, at this dreadful time.”
The MPs also called for a block on customers opening multiple accounts and quicker intervention with customers who display signs of disordered gambling.