The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has issued a personal statement from Andy Bennett, regional bookmaker Scotsbet’s betting store manager.
Bennett, a Scotsbet Selkirk shop manager located in the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituencies, has branded the Scottish government’s bookmaker reopening requirements as both ludicrous and out of touch.
The 900 betting shops in Scotland have been allowed to reopen as of Monday 29 June. However, last-minute demands have been sanctioned by SNP ministers which placed severe restrictions on venues.
Bennett letter reads: “To people who do not use them, betting shops are shrouded in mystery, and misinformation. Betting is enjoyed by over two-thirds of the adult population in Scotland, and all but a tiny number do so in a responsible manner.
“Times have moved on massively from the days when opening a betting shop door would result in large plumes of smoke billowing out, along with language that would turn the air blue.”
In addition to switching off all machines and being prohibited from broadcasting live sports, the requirements placed by the SNP demanded that bookmakers remove all the venue seating.
The SNP claimed that the immediate steps had been taken to ensure ‘no clustering of people gathering within betting shops’ – a decision lambasted by the BGC for potentially placing 4,500 workers at risk of job loss.
In detailing the consequences of the actions of the government, Bennett said: “My own shop has seen a greater than 60% drop in business, meaning we have had to keep willing workers furloughed.
“These are colleagues who want to get back to contributing to the economy, not receiving payments from the Government, but we literally have no choice. This has to change, but as yet, we haven’t had even the slightest indication of when that will be.”
Bennett also stressed in his statement that Scottish bookmakers had fully prepared their venues for the social distancing and hygiene requirements of ‘Scottish Stage 2,’ as dictated by the Holyrood.
Bennett also claimed that the government seems unaware of all the efforts and projects undertaken by betting shop managers and staff to enhance one-to-one customer service and the credibility of betting shops within their local communities.
Designating SNP regulations as unethical and punitive, the BGC has requested that the Scottish Government immediately lift its conditions, enabling betting shops to return to a sense of normal trade.
Bennett ended his statement by saying: “It is shambolic for the Scottish government to expect our industry to trade in such a way. They seem hellbent on the destruction of an industry that employs thousands and pays millions in tax, and I cannot understand why.
“I can’t comprehend why we have been treated so differently to our colleagues elsewhere in the UK, and why our customers are thought of so poorly. I plead with the Scottish government to respect Scottish bookmakers and their customers and ease these ludicrous restrictions before it is too late.”