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Bill Stratton

It’s been a tough year for betting shops, but Safer Gambling Week is as important as it’s ever been

Safer Gambling Week 2020 comes at a very unusual time for our sector, with hundreds of betting shops which would otherwise have been playing a full part in it forced to close their doors to help halt the spread of Covid.

Thankfully, virtually all of Scotbet’s 30 shops remain open, and I’m delighted to say that we will be proudly displaying our posters advertising the week to our customers in all of them.

Our staff have also been made aware of the week’s significance and will be on hand to explain what’s going on if asked by customers. They are already experts on the signs to look out for, and know when and how to intervene, so in that sense this week is just like any other.

I’m a huge supporter of Safer Gambling Week because it shows our industry at its best. Nobody wants to see problem gambling in their shops, and our staff are all trained to look out for the tell-take signs that someone is in difficulty. If that happens, they know what to say and how to direct that individual to the various types of help which are on offer.

If there was no such thing as Safer Gambling Week, there is a danger that the issue would remain in the background and not be discussed, which would be the worst possible approach. I want our customers to look at the posters round our shops, think about the message and seek help if they think they need it.

It’s a talking point and if it makes some of our customers stop and discuss the issue, then that has to be a good thing.

2020 has been a difficult year for our industry, with shops facing the real threat of permanent closure and staff worried about their futures. But that is no reason for safer gambling to fall down the list of priorities.

At Scotbet, and in betting shops across the UK, we prioritise safer gambling every day we are open. But in raising the profile of the issue, Safer Gambling Week is a brilliant initiative and one that we are proud to support.

Bill Stratton is general manager of Scotbet

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