BGC CEO blames “lack of understanding” for Scottish betting shop restrictions

By Owain Flanders

Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, has described Scottish ministers’ plans to reopen the nation’s betting shops with added restrictions as “frankly ridiculous.”

Betting shops in Scotland have been closed since March as part of efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Ministers in Scotland have now decided land-based bookmakers can reopen their doors to the public from 29 June if they implement certain restrictions.

Bookmakers will not be able to show live horseracing in their shops and must remove all chairs, with ministers insisting shops open “for the purpose of betting only.”

John Heaton, chairman of Scotbet, described the planned restrictions as “just crazy,” adding that it was “a real slap in the face for an industry which has done its bit for the national effort to tackle COVID-19.”

Heaton insists live racing in betting shops no longer draws in the large crowds it used to in the past - “people come in, watch a race and leave again,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dugher said the planned restrictions suggest “a complete lack of understanding of how betting shops operate.”

“It’s frankly ludicrous that a punter can watch live coverage of a Scottish horse race in a betting shop in Carlisle, but not a few miles over the border in Gretna,” commented Dugher.

“We share the Scottish Government’s determination to keep customers and staff safe. It is perfectly possible to limit numbers of people in a shop at any one time, just like in the rest of high street retail.”

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