The group has called for the sector to be treated on equal terms with other businesses when Covid-19 measures are lifted.
UK.- The industry body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on the government to allow betting shops and casinos to reopen at the same time as other businesses when Covid-19 countermeasures are relaxed.
Both casinos and betting shops have been closed across Britain since the current lockdown started on January 5, but many have been closed for much longer due to tiered regional restrictions prior to the nationwide lockdown.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is today (Monday) expected to announce a “roadmap” for the country to exit its latest lockdown. That’s expected to include details of when non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen.
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher has urged the government to ensure a “level playing field” and allow gaming venues to open at the same time as other non-essential businesses.
He said: “As the vaccine roll out continues and the country begins to emerge from lockdown, it is important that businesses are able to plan effectively for reopening.
“Ministers must be clear from the outset what the next few months will look like and there should be a consistent approach across the sectors.
“Betting shops must be allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail. Last summer, when most betting shops were able to open, they showed that they have best-in-class anti-Covid measures compared to any other part of the high street to protect customers and staff.
“Likewise, casinos are eager to help Britain get back on its feet. The night-time economy has taken a hammering during the pandemic and draconian restrictions, including the 10pm curfew, have made a difficult situation more desperate for many businesses.”
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Dugher warned that delaying the reopening of gambling venues could lead to more job losses in an industry that employs more than 44,000 people and contributed £3.2bn in taxes in the 2019-20 financial year.
Dugher said: “There will be no let-up in our commitment to safety, but we need the economy to open up again – not least if we are to revive the country’s tax take and fund vital public services like the NHS.
“But the thousands of people employed in betting shops and casinos deserve nothing less than a level playing field, so that everyone gets the same opportunities to recover.”