When many of England’s non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen following the first national lockdown on 15th June 2020, it came as a shock to the UK gambling industry that casinos and bingo halls hadn’t made Boris Johnson’s cut.
In fact, casinos had to wait until 1st August before they were given the green light, causing the Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, Michael Dugher, to describe the 4-month-long wait as “awful for the 12,000 people who work in casinos in England”.
This was despite high street betting shops being allowed to reopen in England from mid-June while bingo halls were allowed to follow suit from 4th July.
So, it comes as no surprise that the Betting and Gaming Council has voiced its concern over the future of England’s gaming businesses as we head through the second countrywide lockdown.
The BGC is adamant that there is zero evidence that indicates that casinos, bingo halls and bookies have contributed towards the spread of Coronavirus since reopening their doors this summer. It is, therefore, urging the government to confirm that it will use a “science-led approach” when England comes out of lockdown on 2nd December.
While employees of these businesses should be covered by the extended furlough scheme, Michael Dugher and his fellow BGC members want the government to allow betting establishments to open (alongside other non-essential retail) on Day 1.
He also says that UK casinos “have the best anti-COVID measures anywhere in hospitality and entertainment”.
Mr Dugher has criticised “the arbitrary and unnecessary decisions” that forced betting shops and casinos to wait longer than almost every other type of business following the last national lockdown. He also wants the government to “recognise that a healthy betting industry is vital to the funding of sport” and that without it, the “widespread despair among sporting bodies” is likely to continue.