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Safe re-opening of hundreds of Scottish betting shops

Betting and Gaming Council welcomes the safe re-opening of hundreds of Scottish betting shops following Covid shutdown – and urges ministers to let casinos follow suit

Standards body the Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed the re-opening of hundreds of Scottish betting shops which were closed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Around 400 shops – half of Scotland’s total – have been shut since the most stringent Level 4 restrictions were imposed three weeks ago across 11 local authority areas.

But after being moved to Level 3, they are now allowed to re-open alongside other high street shops.

The move is a huge boost for the 2000 members of staff who work in the shops, which also pay £50m a year in tax to the Treasury plus £13.5m to horse racing through the betting levy and media rights.

However, the BGC urged the Scottish Government to also allow casinos to re-open in Level 3, given the best-in-class anti-Covid measures they have in place and the lack of any evidence that they contribute to the spread of the virus.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “It’s great news for staff and customers that betting shops can open their doors again.

“They have introduced a range of anti-Covid measures, including Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and strict social distancing rules, so they are a safe environment for people to work and enjoy a bet.

“But so have casinos, so they should be able to safely open their doors again as well.”

He added: “The economic contribution betting shops – and casinos – make in terms of tax paid to the Treasury, as well as the jobs they provide, will be vital as the UK recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

“Betting shops’ contribution to horse racing – which has suffered financially as a result of the ban on spectators – also cannot be overstated. Scotland’s five racecourses have taken a huge hit due to the pandemic and we are delighted that revenue from shops can now flow through to the racing industry.”

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