BGC’s Advice to Reopen UK Casinos Following Wales Example
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According to CasinoBeats, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is pleased that casinos and betting shops in Wales will start functioning again after the second phase of lockdown. The Welsh Government had raised concerns about the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country. Based on this, Wales imposed a 17-day lockdown.
The second lockdown commenced from 6 pm on the 23rd of October till the 9th of November 2020. To the surprise of most casino operators and the BGC, the Welsh government reopened casino and betting shops.
Casinos and betting shops in England are considered as “non-essential retail”, unlike the Welsh government. Also, considering the impact of the lockdown on the industry, the BGC had earlier reacted to the UK’s COVID-19 restrictions on the industry.
BGC’s Reaction to the Closure of Casinos and Betting Shops in the United Kingdom
BGC did not welcome the closure of casinos and betting shops by the UK government after the lockdown from the onset. The council believes that the continuous closure could harm the industry.
At some point, the BGC described the government’s closure of casinos as “needless”. They also claimed that there is no evidence indicating casinos as a serious source for the spread of the pandemic. This argument is simply because of the strict compliance of betting shops and casinos to the COVID-19 regulations.
Michael Dugher, the Chief Executive of BGC, further urged the government to apply COVID-19 measures to allow the trusted online gambling industry to operate. In the same vein, Dugher wondered why there would be inconsistencies in the approaches of curbing the virus when it comes to gym and leisure centers in Liverpool and Lancashire. According to him, it appears as if the minister doesn’t care about the affairs of casinos and betting shops.
The Betting and Gaming Council Recommendations to the UK Government Concerning the Gambling Industry
It appears that the BGC has been on the frontline in ensuring that its members scale through the pandemic. The council believes that the UK government ought to do more to keep its members in the business.
Dugher also urged the UK government to follow suit, just like the Welsh government to reopen the industry after the second phase of lockdown.
Meanwhile, the BGC has made the following recommendations to the UK government:
The reopening of casinos and betting shops from day one after the second phase of lockdown ends on 2nd of December 2020
Financial support for the gambling industry, including their employees
In another statement issued by Michael Dugher, the UK government was beseeched to consider the various strict compliance of casinos and betting shops to the COVID-19 regulations. There was no need for the continued closure of the industry.
The Impact of the Closure of the Gambling Industry in the UK
No doubt, the entertainment and leisure centers are the hardest hit sectors since the beginning of the pandemic. Even after the lockdown was lifted, casinos and betting shops have remained closed or operated with strict restrictions in the UK.
For instance, in Wales, the BGC claimed that the reopening of casinos and betting shops immediately after the second phase of lockdown had saved the jobs of more than 2000 staff. Wales currently has four casinos and over 360 bookmakers.
Meanwhile, the number of bookmakers, casinos, and staff in the UK is double what is obtainable in Wales. Therefore, it means more casino operators may have packed up.
COVID-19 Regulations and Measures Taken by the Gambling Industry to Curb the Spread
As part of measures to scale down the spread of COVID-19, the UK government had set out certain restrictions after the lockdown.
Closure of all casinos and betting shops before 10 pm daily
Wearing of face mask by all staff
Restaurants and bars are limited to just table services
Similarly, the casinos have gone a step further to do the following:
Installing perspex screens
Investing in track and trace systems
On this basis, the BGC believes that the casino and betting shops should be allowed to open since they have taken extra steps to keep the virus from spreading. Also, according to BGC, 75 percent of the casinos’ profits are made from 10 pm. So relaxing the curfew will be beneficial to the gambling houses.
Will the UK Gambling Industry Recover After the Lockdown?
With the support of the UK government, the gambling industry will scale through these hard times. Don’t forget, the industry also contributes to the growth of the economy.
For instance, UK casinos paid about £1.3bn in taxes to the Treasury in the last three years. So shutting down this sector will also adversely affect the revenue of the government.
Finally, the only way going forward is to ensure strict compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines, allow the casinos and betting shops to operate, and propagandize to offer online casino bonuses to attract more players.