The UK gaming and betting industry has experienced yet another set-back this year following a Government decision to close betting shops and casinos again in many regions, despite a lack of clear evidence that the venues are contributing to Covid-19 infection spread.
The closures have been branded “ill-informed and arbitrary” and the industry’s primary representative, Michael Dugher has written to Business Secretary Alok Sharma asking him or his department to step-in and cancel the decision that will not only further damage a struggling industry, but risk tens of thousands of jobs within the UK.
As the new Tier lockdown measures have been introduced nationwide, many businesses, including retail betting shops, have been forced to close despite implementing strict anti Coronavirus measures and protocols within premises, including the use of track and trace and perspec screens.
As soon as a region is upgraded to Tier 3 – the most serious of all the tiers – companies are being urged to closure their doors within days or even hours, creating yet more uncertainty for many casinos and bookmaker companies operating in the UK market.
In addition, chief executive Michael Dugher has also written to leaders in local regions that are currently placed in Tier 2 of the new measures and asked them to oppose forced closures of casino establishments and retail betting shops should they be moved to Tier 3.
Michael Dugher stated:
‘There are currently just over 6,700 shops employing nearly 40,000 staff across the country, the majority of which are female.
The singling out of betting shops for closure is unfair, unnecessary and runs counter to the sensible approach the Government had previously adopted.
This decision looks ill-informed, arbitrary, and along with plans to close Covid-secure casinos (that had offered to give up selling alcohol) it frankly looks anti-gambling industry.
It will have a hugely negative impact on our businesses and staff, despite their efforts to ensure a very safe environment for customers that is well beyond any other non-essential retail business.
I therefore would like to ask for your support to intervene on behalf of betting shops, an important part of high street retail and an industry that contributes over £3 billion in tax every year.
I share one hundred per cent the Government’s determination to tackle the spread of Covid.
The decision to close betting shops won’t help with that, but it does put in jeopardy an industry that will be much-needed to help power the economy and the Exchequer to recovery.’