In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Betting and Gaming Council welcomed the re-opening of hundreds of Scottish betting shops which were closed.
After the most severe Level 4 restrictions were imposed three weeks ago across 11 local authority areas, about 400 stores, half of Scotland’s total, have been shut down. But they are now permitted to reopen alongside other high street shops after being relocated to Level 3. For the 2,000 people employed in the stores, who often pay £ 50 million a year in tax to the Treasury, plus £ 13.5 million for horse racing via the betting levy and broadcasting rights, the move is a massive boost.
However, in view of the best-in-class anti-Covid measures they have in place and the lack of any evidence that they lead to the spread of the virus, the BGC urged the Scottish Government to also allow casinos to re-open at Level 3.
Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive, stated: “It’s great news for staff and customers that betting shops can open their doors again. They have introduced a range of anti-Covid measures, including Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and strict social distancing rules, so they are a safe environment for people to work and enjoy a bet. But so have casinos, so they should be able to safely open their doors again as well.”
He added: “The economic contribution betting shops – and casinos – make in terms of tax paid to the Treasury, as well as the jobs they provide, will be vital as the UK recovers from the impact of the pandemic. Betting shops’ contribution to horse racing – which has suffered financially as a result of the ban on spectators – also cannot be overstated. Scotland’s five racecourses have taken a huge hit due to the pandemic and we are delighted that revenue from shops can now flow through to the racing industry.”