BGC Calls For Tandem Re-Opening

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has asserted that casinos and betting shops must be allowed to reopen in tandem once the country is given the green light to safely emerge from lockdown.

Lauding the speed of the vaccine roll-out across the UK, the plea has been made by the industry standards body ahead of the roadmap out of lockdown which the Prime Minister is scheduled to deliver Monday February 22.

Emerging from lockdown

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council said: “As the vaccine roll out continues and the country begins to emerge from lockdown, it is important that businesses are able to plan effectively for reopening.

“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.”

Sectors of the economy

The BGC has said that its members, which employ 44,000 people in betting shops and casinos, are willing to help the economic recovery and must be given the same opportunities to reopen as other sectors of the economy.

For betting shops, it says that that means reopening in line with other non-essential retailers; whereas for casinos reopening must be achieved alongside entertainment venues such as pubs and restaurants.

Dugher explained: “Betting shops must be allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail. Last summer, when most betting shops were able to open, they showed that they have best-in-class anti-COVID measures compared to any other part of the high street to protect customers and staff. It is vital that ministers allow them to play their part in stimulating the high street, along with other non-essential retailers.

“Likewise, casinos are eager to help Britain get back on its feet. The night-time economy has taken a hammering during the pandemic and draconian restrictions, including the 10pm curfew, have made a difficult situation more desperate for many businesses. 

“Ministers must allow casinos to reopen at the same time as other hospitality businesses including pubs and they must scrap the curfew. It didn’t work last summer and it won’t work now.

Commitment to safety

“There will be no let-up in our commitment to safety, but we need the economy to open up again – not least if we are to revive the country’s tax take and fund vital public services like the NHS. But 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.”

Debbie Husband, national director of operations for Grosvenor UK, indicated last week that it is “absolutely vital that casinos remain hitched to the wider hospitality sector”.

With the timetable and conditions for emerging from the new lockout forthcoming, Husband also urged the need for curfew mandates to become a thing of the past.