BGC welcomes betting shop reopening as “much-needed boost”

| By Robert Fletcher
British industry group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has hailed the reopening of English and Welsh licensed betting shops following the easing of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions as a “much-needed boost” to the industry.

Shops can reopen from today (12 April) after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week announced that the country would move to the next phase of its exit from lockdown.

Betting shops are being allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail, which has been closed since 5 January when a third national lockdown came into effect in England.

All gambling venues in England have been closed since early January, though many facilities have been closed longer due to regional restrictions imposed under the preceding tiered system.

Certain restrictions will remain in place for betting shops, including requirements for customers to wear masks when inside the facility, as well to adhere to social distancing rules and capacity limit.

Other gaming venues, including casinos, will all open in stage three, which is expected to start on 17 May.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher welcomed the reopening, saying the easing of restrictions will allow approximately 6,000 betting shops to reopen.

“It’s great news that high street betting shops in England and Wales are finally able to re-open safely, along with the rest of non-essential retail,” Dugher said.

“It’s been a long three months for betting shop staff, as well as their customers, and I know they are all looking forward to safely getting back to business thanks to the best-in-class anti-Covid measures in place.

“The UK’s betting shops support 46,000 jobs and paid nearly £1bn in tax to the Treasury in 2020, while our members contribute £350m to horseracing through sponsorship, media rights and the betting levy.

“This means that as well as providing a much-needed boost for the millions of people who enjoy a flutter, they will also be able to play a key role in the UK’s post-Covid economic recovery.”

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