After four months of inactivity due to COVID-19 lockdowns, Scottish retail betting shops reopened their doors to customers yesterday.
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, has described the safe reopening of Scotland’s high street betting outlets as “another step towards normality” for the sector, its staff, bettors, and the British economy in general.
Approximately 750 retail betting shops reopened, employing over 4,000 staff and generating approximately £80 million in tax and £6 million in business rates.
Another step towards normality
Dugher said: “Following the safe re-opening of betting shops in England and Wales earlier this month, Scottish shops getting back to business is another step towards normality and a welcome boost for jobs on the high street in Scotland.
“It’s great news for their staff and customers, and of course it is an important source of funding for horse racing. As we look forward to a great summer of sport, Scottish punters will once again be able to safely enjoy a flutter on the high street.”
Infection control initiatives
In addition to the Scottish Government’s requirements, bookmakers can incorporate a variety of coronavirus infection control initiatives, such as hand sanitisation stations and Perspex screens between customers and employees.
Gaming machines will be turned off, television volume will be reduced, and all consumers will be required to provide contact information for the NHS track and trace service.
The reopening of Scottish betting shops comes two weeks after betting shops in England and Wales were allowed to resume active trading – a development Dugher described as “great news” – but with similar stringent safety and hygiene measures in place to protect customers’ health and minimise the risk of infection.
Important financial contribution
The BGC has also reaffirmed the betting and gaming industry’s important financial contribution to the British economy, as well as its role as a major source of jobs.
The standards agency recently released the results of a report by Ernest & Young, which found that the betting industry contributed £7.7 billion to the UK economy in gross added value in 2019.
Furthermore, the industry employs over 61,000 people and produces 58,000 jobs across its supply chain, as well as making major monetary contributions to the British sporting sector.
The English Football League (EFL) and its member clubs earned about £40 million from betting industry outlets, in addition to over £10 million for darts and snooker and over £2.5 million for rugby league.
Horse racing, on the other hand, receives the most important financial support, with around £350 million coming from the betting tax, broadcast rights agreements, and sponsorship deals.