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Bacta challenges UK government over AGC reopening schedule

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Bacta, the trade body which represents Britain’s amusements and high street gaming manufacturers and operators, has launched a legal challenge to the government over the delayed reopening of adult gaming centres (AGCs).
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Bacta has instructed legal firm DWF Law to challenge the thinking behind the delayed reopening, it said.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently set out the nation’s plan for easing lockdown measures.

This will see non-essential retail including betting shops reopen from 12 April. AGCs, alongside bingo halls and casinos, are to follow from 17 May.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, DWF Law said: “Bacta had hoped it would not need to subject the decision to legal scrutiny and/or challenge, but it simply cannot ignore the decision’s discriminatory impact and the long term hit to the AGC industry which would flow from it.”

DWF claimed the decision to delay the opening of AGCs is irrational, as they have proven themselves to be able to operate safely, with no reports of infections arising from the use of the premises and usually having few customers present at any one time.

It went on to claim the government was discriminating against AGCs, as licensed betting offices (LBOs) are to be allowed to reopen earlier.

“Our client has never been told any good reason why the disparity of treatment between LBOs and AGCs exists,” the law firm said. “It therefore remains plain that the disparity is not based on any good evidence justifying it.

John White, chief executive of Bacta, said the trade body would do everything to focus attention on the unfair – and potentially illegal – treatment of AGCs in the reopening roadmap.

“The decision to prevent this one venue on the High Street from opening with all other retailers is not only discriminatory, evidence for it is absent and it lacks any logic,” he said.

England entered into its third period of national lockdown in January, forcing all gaming venues to close once again. This followed earlier lockdowns, from March 2020, then again from November.

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