The Betting and Gaming Council has pressed its stance that casinos and betting shops must be allowed to reopen at the same time the country is given the green light to exit heightened lockdown restrictions.
Lauding the speed of vaccine roll-out across the United Kingdom, the BGC made a plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to provide a road map out of the lockdown, which is scheduled to be revealed on 22 February.
In light of this, Michael Dugher, the Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive has stated that as the vaccine rollout continues and the country begins to emerge from lockdown, it is important that businesses are able to plan effectively for reopening. He further added that ministers must be clear from the outset what the next few months will look like and there should be a consistent approach across the sectors.
The BGC pointed out its members, who employ 44,000 people in betting shops and casinos across the UK, are ready to support economic recovery and must be given the same opportunities to reopen as other parts of the economy.
The BGC also mentioned betting shops as it also pointed out that bookie re-openings should be in line with other non-essential retailers; while casino re-opening must be done alongside entertainment venues such as pubs and restaurants.
Dugher explained that betting shops must be allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail. He further went on to detail his statement by pointing out that most betting shops were able to open as they’ve shown that they have best-in-class anti-COVID measures compared to any other part of the high street to protect customers and staff. Dugher also added that it is vital that ministers allow them to play their part in stimulating the high street, along with other non-essential retailers.
Aside from betting shops, Dugher also explained that casinos are eager to help Britain get back on its feet. Dugher pointed out that the night-time economy has taken a hammering during the pandemic and draconian restrictions, including the 10 pm curfew, have made a difficult situation more desperate for many businesses. With this, Dugher stressed that ministers must allow casinos to reopen at the same time as other hospitality businesses including pubs and they must scrap the curfew as It didn’t work last summer and it won’t work now.
Given the nature of the virus, Dugher has stressed that there will be no let-up in the industry’s commitment to safety, but it needs the economy to open up again so that it can participate in reviving the country’s tax take and fund vital public services like the NHS. Dugher also pointed out that the thousands of people employed in betting shops and casinos deserve nothing less than a level playing field so that everyone gets the same opportunities to recover.
Chiming in on this, Debbie Husband, the national director of operations for Grosvenor UK, stated that it is absolutely vital that casinos remain hitched to the wider hospitality sector and also urged the need for curfew mandates to remain a thing of the past.