Scottish betting shops received the green light to reopen on June 29 but will provide only a transactional service.
The Scottish government will prohibit betting shops from displaying live races under the next step of the government to lift COVID-19 limits, although there will also be a ban on seating in the shops to deter people from gathering in.
In a letter released by the Racing Post, Kate Forbes, the Secretary of the Scottish Cabinet for Finance, wrote to Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, stating that fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) would also be turned off.
Forbes wrote: “With regards to your query of when your members will be permitted to reopen, it is anticipated that betting shops will be able to reopen in Phase 2 for the purpose of placing bets only, with no chairs and no televisions showing live races. This aims to avoid clusters of people gathering to watch live sport.
“Gambling machines should also be switched off to avoid spread through surface transmission. Confirmation will be issued in due course as to when the rest of the adult gaming industry may reopen.”
In a statement GVC said: “We are disappointed that we’ve had no clear advice or guidance on re-opening our Scottish shops. This is inconsistent with our English estate which is open for business and operating strict social-distancing measures to protect our colleagues and our customers. We will continue to seek clarification from the Scottish Government on this issue.”
Betting shops in England were allowed to reopen their doors on Monday, June 15, provided they operate in line with government guidelines on social distancing and protective measures such as ‘sneeze screens’ and enhanced cleaning procedures.
Meanwhile betting shops in Ireland were forced to remain closed until 29 June following widespread confusion about the government’s non-essential retail messages.
It has been reported that on June 15, 800 Irish betting shops reopened their businesses, believing they had complied with the ‘phase two’ national Coronavirus plan of the Irish Government. However, Irish betting firms were instructed to close their doors within 24 hours, as the government said betting shops were not included in the statutory arrangement for reopening non-essential Irish retail businesses.