International edition
March 02, 2021

The UK Prime Minister is expected to announce a roadmap out of lockdown on Monday

UK betting shops, casinos must be allowed to reopen in line with other similar businesses, BGC says

UK betting shops, casinos must be allowed to reopen in line with other similar businesses, BGC says
“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," said BGC CEO Michael Dugher.
United Kingdom | 02/22/2021

The BGC said that betting shops should reopen in line with other non-essential retailers, and casinos with hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants. The body's CEO said ministers "must scrap the curfew", as "it didn’t work last summer and it won’t work now."

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K industry standards body Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) calls for a “level playing field” as the government studies the roadmap out of lockdown. The BGC says UK betting shops and casinos must be allowed to reopen at the same time as other similar businesses once the country is given the green light to safely emerge from lockdown.

The call comes as the UK Prime Minister is expected to announce a roadmap out of lockdown on Monday, with proposals also due from the devolved administrations. BGC said its members and their employees have been supporting the national effort against Covid-19 and are continuing to do so, with members offering their venues as test and vaccination centres and employees volunteering to support the vaccine roll out.

The BGC has said that its members – which employ 44,000 people in betting shops and casinos - are ready to support the economic recovery and must be given the same opportunities to reopen as other parts of the economy. For betting shops, that means reopening in line with other non-essential retailers; and for casinos, hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants.

The Betting and Gaming industry paid £3.2 billion in taxes to the UK Exchequer in 2019-20. Betting shops employ 32,500 people and generate almost £2.8 billion for the economy and the casino industry is worth £1 billion to the economy and employs around 11,500 people.

Horse racing receives over £350 million per year from the betting industry through the horse racing industry levy, media rights and sponsorships which has been hugely important at a time when people have been unable to attend race meetings. Betting shops are integral to the racing industry, they contribute over £30,000 per shop in media rights each year to screen racing on top of levy payments. 

“The pace at which the vaccine is being rolled out across the UK has been hugely impressive," stated Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council. “As the vaccine rollout continues and the country begins to emerge from lockdown, it is important that businesses are able to plan effectively for reopening. 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."

“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," Dugher continued. 

“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," BGC CEO concluded.

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