July the 19th sees all Covid-19 restrictions lifted in England in accordance with the Government’s roadmap, but there are many factors land-based arcades, betting shops & casinos should bear in mind when considering the safety of staff and customers.
Poppleston Allen solicitor David Inzani is on hand with a list of FAQs.
Q: Will live sport be able to be shown in all betting shops without restrictions?
Yes, subject to an operator’s risk assessment (see next question below) and the operator having appropriate licence permission to broadcast the live channel.
Q: Will there be any limit on the number of customers allowed into a betting shop/casino/arcade?
All venues will be able to open without any legal limits on capacities or social distancing requirements. However, the Government is advising that a Covid-19 risk assessment should still be in place.
Through a risk assessment, an operator may decide to limit capacity to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Operators may also decide to use other means to reduce the risk, such as using screens or barriers to separate customers in close proximity, or continue requiring the use of face coverings by staff and customers on their premises.
Q: Will there be any limit to the amount of time a customer(s) can spend in a betting shop/casino/arcade?
There will be no limit set by Covid-19-related legislation, subject to an operator’s Covid risk assessment. Operators and customers can of course still set limits on spending and playing time in the interest of responsible gambling.
Q: Are tables and chairs allowed to return to betting shops/casinos/arcades?
Yes, subject to an operator’s risk assessment.
Q: Are customers now free to bet with cash/is there any requirement or guidance, for operators to advise customers to use cards/transact in a way that minimises contact?
There is no legal requirement for operators to require card or contactless payment, but the government guidance for businesses to work safely from July 19th encourages keeping contacts around transactions to a minimum and using contactless payment where possible. Please note there remains a legal requirement that card payments cannot be used for gaming machines.
Q: Is there any guidance that operators should be aware of to maintain a safe, legal and compliant environment for customers post July 19th?
Yes, the Government has published guidance for working safely post July 19th in shops, branches and close contact services (including betting shops and high street arcades).
The Government has stated that failure to carry out and implement a sufficient risk assessment could be considered a breach of health and safety law. Local authorities will continue to have power to place public health restrictions on businesses in cases where a serious and imminent threat to public health is identified.
Betting shops and high street gambling arcades in particular are encouraged under government guidance to continue to display an official NHS QR code poster for Test and Trace.
The Government has stated that by the end of July it will publish an updated Covid-19 contain outbreak management framework for local areas. Thereafter, in September the Government will assess the country’s preparedness for autumn and winter, and consider whether to continue or strengthen public and business guidance.
Q: Are there any restrictions of any kind that will remain in place post July 19th for licensed betting premises?
No legal restrictions will remain in place for licensed betting premises. However, in recent days the Government has been at pains to stress that while many of the legal restrictions imposed through the pandemic will be lifted, guidance will remain such that it is not yet a return to complete normality. Businesses are expected to continue to implement necessary measures to protect their staff and customers during coronavirus.
David Inzani is a solicitor at gambling licensing specialists Poppleston Allen and advises on betting and gaming matters, and regularly assists clients by providing regulatory advice and carrying out applications for operating licences and premises licences.
David acts for a variety of national and independent operators in the hospitality and retail industries, including major restaurant chains, pubs, hotels, nightclubs, shopping centres, bingo operators and adult gaming centres.