The Betting Gaming Council has welcomed the re-opening of betting shops and casinos in Wales – and called on the UK Government to allow those in England to follow suit as soon as the latest lockdown ends.
The standards body backed the science-led approach taken by the Welsh Government, which has recognised the extensive anti-Covid measures introduced by the venues and the lack of any evidence they have contributed to the spread of the virus.
From today, the 360 bookies and 4 casinos in Wales can re-open for business following the country’s two-week coronavirus “fire break”.
It means their 2,000 employees can safely return to work and generate much-needed revenue for the Welsh economy.
In England, all casinos and betting shops are currently closed as part of the nationwide lockdown, which is due to run until December 2.
But even before the latest shutdown, English bookies were lumped in with hospitality venues – meaning those in Tier 3 areas had to shut – despite the Government officially classifying them as “non-essential retail”.
Casinos in England were also ordered to close their doors at 10pm, despite their excellent anti-Covid measures – including perspex screens, track and trace systems and strict social distancing – being described as the best in the hospitality and leisure sector by senior public health officials who inspected them.
Since re-opening their doors in the summer, casinos and bookies have operated safely, contributing vital tax revenues to the Exchequer and, in the case of betting shops, millions of pounds to horseracing in levy and media rights payments, payments that are once again flowing in Wales.
Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive, said:
“The decision to re-open betting shops and casinos across Wales is hugely welcome and demonstrates the confidence of the Welsh Government in the safety measures they have place.
“It means 2,000 staff will now get back to work and our members can get back to serving their customers.
“We are now urging the UK Government to also recognise the lengths to which betting shops and casinos have gone to make sure they are Covid-secure and, when the English lockdown ends, allow them to safely re-open from day one.”