Betting shops across Scotland are now allowed to reopen their premises to customers. The announcement was made by the Scottish government last week, 11 December, and was lauded by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
Half of Scotland’s total betting shops, about 400, have been forced to shut their doors for about three weeks ever since the Scottish government imposed Level 4 COVID-19 restrictions. Betting shops are now allowed to reopen as the Scottish government has decided to move the affected areas into Level 3 restrictions, bringing relief to the industry, its stakeholders and the economy.
The BGC has lauded the Scottish government’s decision to allow the reopening of betting shops across Scotland but has pleaded ministers to allow its in-land casino properties to follow suit. The BGC also stressed betting shops and casinos’ overall economic contribution describing it as a vital part of the UK’s ongoing recovery. The group’s plea also went on to highlight the industry’s anti-COVID measures in place, stating that these are the best in class.
Michael Dugher, chief executive officer of the BGC, has said that the reopening of betting shops in Scotland is great news for its staff and customers. He went on to say that Scotland’s betting shops are a safe environment for both workers and customers as they have introduced a variety of anti-COVID measures which include perspex screen, hand sanitation dispensers and strict social distancing rules.
Dugher went on to point out that casinos also have such measures in place and that they should also be permitted to safely open their premises as well.
The recent announcement is a huge boost to many of the betting industry stakeholders particularly its employees and mutually benefitting industries such as horse racing. Scotland’s betting industry supports two thousand staff members and contributes £50 million a year in taxes to the Treasury while its Horse racing industry receives £13.5 million in betting levy and media rights.
Dugher urged the Scottish government to allow casinos to reopen in level 3. He went to explain the vital role of Scotland’s casino industry to the UK’s economic recovery by saying that betting shops and casinos have a significant contribution to the country in terms of tax paid to the treasury and as well as the jobs that the industry provides to the people.
Dugher also added that betting shops’ contribution to the horse racing industry can’t be overstated as the horse racing industry has suffered financially due to the ban on spectators. He went on to say that Scotland’s five racecourses have been massively impacted by the pandemic and that the BGC and its members are delighted to know that the horse racing industry can now benefit from the revenue generated from betting shops.
The BGC is not alone in supporting the betting and horse racing industry. Just recently, a steering group was established earlier this year by members of the British Horseracing Association, Jockey Club and Horsemen’s Group pushing for a betting levy reform. The movement is in recognition of the substantial financial impact COVID-19 has had on the industry and sport.