Retail sports betting

Scottish betting shops reopen after four months of closure

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Betting shops in Scotland reopened for the first time in four months today (26 April), as the country eased measures intended to limit the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

About 750 licensed betting offices will reopen alongside many other non-essential retail premises, ending a period of closure that started on 26 December. According to the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), these shops employ 4,000 people, pay £80m (€92.0m/$111.2m) in tax and £6m in business rates.

Gaming machines at these shops will remain unavailable, however, as part of continued restrictions. In addition, televisions on the premises will be restricted to lower volumes and all customers must provide their details for the government’s test and trace programme.

The reopening comes two weeks after betting shops opened in England and Wales.

“Following the safe re-opening of betting shops in England and Wales earlier this month, Scottish shops getting back to business is another step towards normality and a welcome boost for jobs on the high street in Scotland,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said. “It’s great news for their staff and customers, and of course it is an important source of funding for horseracing.

“As we look forward to a great summer of sport, Scottish punters will once again be able to safely enjoy a flutter on the high street.”

While betting shops can now reopen, casinos in Scotland appear set to wait until June at the earliest to welcome back customers, after the government determined that the venues may only open again when the country’s virus situation enters “level two”.

Last month, the BGC called the decision to give casinos a later reopening date than pubs and restaurants – which may reopen at level three – “absurd”, after a report from hygiene expert Dr Lisa Acklerley said there was “no logical or scientific reason” for the distinction.

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