BGC welcomes government decision to reopen betting shops

By Peter Lynch

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the UK government’s decision to allow betting shops to reopen in Tier 3 areas, but has vowed to continue to fight for the reopening of casinos.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the decision as he outlined England’s plans beyond the end of the national lockdown from 3 December.

Betting shops are currently the only part of non-essential high street retail which must remain closed in Tier 3 areas across the country.

Under the new arrangements, betting shops can reopen with several restrictions in place, namely a ban on live sport being shown and limits on customer numbers.

These new additional safety measures will complement those already in place, including perspex screens, hand sanitising stations and strict social distancing.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher welcomed the decision, saying: “This is great news for our customers in communities across large parts of England and for the thousands of people employed in high street betting shops.

“On top of the stringent anti-Covid measures betting shops already adhere to, our members have agreed to further restrictions to limit any chance of Covid being transmitted in their premises.”

Casinos, however, must stay closed in Tier 3 areas, a decision that has disappointed Dugher.

“Casinos are best-in-class amongst the hospitality sector when it comes to anti-Covid measures,” he said. “There is no evidence that they contribute to the spread of the virus.

“So it remains extremely disappointing that they are still being ordered to close in Tier 3 areas.

“We do welcome the decision to extend the hospitality curfew by an hour to 11pm, but we will continue to make the case that casinos are uniquely exposed to any curfew and we will press for their full and safe reopening in all parts of the country.”

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