U.K. Betting Shops Get Reopening Date
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson (l.) has unveiled plans to reopen most of the retail gaming sector by June 15, bookmakers included.
During a coronavirus briefing May 25, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled provisional plans to reopen betting shops, along with most retail businesses on June 15 after battling Covid-19.
With almost every major sport across the globe postponing events due to the virus, sportsbook operators, took a hit. The U.K. gambling industry has losses up to £150 million (US$184.9 million), according to Intergame. Bookies employ almost 50,000 people.
The reopening begins with car showrooms and outdoor markets from June 1. Should the conditions of five key tests be maintained in early June, lockdown restrictions will be eased elsewhere, allowing the June 15 reopening.
After the briefing, the government published new “retail sector guidance” which contains details on the measures retail businesses must have in place to ensure health and social distancing among customers.
While betting shops and arcades may open, lockdown orders for the leisure industry will remain. These businesses, which includes pubs, casinos, clubs and gyms, face tougher requirements.
The reopening date, which can be pushed back if infection rates rise, comes a day before the scheduled start of the Royal Ascot meeting June 16. And the Premier League will also restart on June 26.
Betting shops and other businesses have to complete a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, so they can manage the risks, the government said. They need to take the necessary steps to become “Covid-19 secure,” in line with the current health and safety legislation, according to iGamingBusiness.com.
Other measures include regular cleaning of premises, social distancing restrictions and protective coverings on items touched by the public. Businesses that break the rules may be fined, with management subject to jail sentences up to two years.
“With racing returning soon, we welcome the fact that betting shops across the country will be able to open their doors again on June 15,” a Betting and Gaming Council spokesperson told iGB. “Our members are working hard to prepare shops for reopening and to ensure a safe environment for customers.”
Betting shops in Ireland are also set to open next month, with June 29 as the target date following discussions between the government and the Irish Bookmakers Association. Both sides settled for a phase three opening.
Irish racing plans to resume operations ‘behind closed doors’ at some centrally located racecourses on June 8, coinciding with phase two of the government’s roadmap for recovery.
“The top priority for our members is the health of their colleagues and customers. Our members are working to ensure robust safety protocols and procedures are in place to adequately protect staff and customers,” said Sharon Byrne, chief executive of the IBA, in a statement.