Bookmakers in Scotland have warned that they would be forced to close some of their betting shops and lay off staff members because of the strict restrictions that were imposed on them by the local Government. Currently, Scottish betting shops are banned from switching on their gaming machines and are forbidden to broadcast live racing, with these restrictions found concerning, as they may force many of them permanently shut operations.
Now, local bookmakers have warned the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, that the restrictions unveiled by the Scottish Government have ended up with significant losses for the operators.
As part of the safety measures unveiled as the coronavirus lockdown is gradually eased, sports betting operators situated north of the Border were required to switch off gaming machines, remove chairs and not to broadcast live racing before they are allowed to resume operations.
According to bookmakers, the measures, which are far more demanding than the ones imposed in other parts of the UK, have fended customers off and have resulted in considerably smaller earnings. In comparison to the period before the massive shutdown that ceased the operation of the entire industry, Scottish sports betting companies have seen a 95% reduction in their turnover since the reopening on June 29th.
The 900 Betting Shops in Scotland Operating at a Loss, Bookmakers Claim
All of the above-said basically means that the 900 betting shops that employ about 4,500 people in Scotland are now operating at a loss, and this puts the long-term future of the bookmakers under question. Apart from that, there is also uncertainty surrounding racing in Scotland, as it highly depends on important media rights payments made from betting shops.
Only a week ago, Ms Sturgeon revealed that she wanted to keep all Scottish businesses viable and to see the ones that face certain difficulties return to normal as quickly as possible.
On the other hand, the chief executive officer of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), Michael Dugher, has earlier warned that the restrictions proposed by the Scottish Government were not necessary and were expected to have a devastating impact on the sports betting operators’ businesses. Unfortunately, this warning has been proved right. Mr Dugher explained that local betting shops are preparing for closures that would put thousands of jobs across the sector at stake unless Ms Sturgeon reconsiders her policy and ease the restrictions faced by the companies in order to keep the viability of hundreds of betting shops across Scotland.
The boss of the trade body of the UK gambling industry further noted that allowing sports betting outlets to open without live racing broadcasts or chairs proved that the authorities did not understand the way they operate. Mr Dugher shared that, usually, bookmakers’ customers did not spend hours at the shops, as they placed a bet and then sat down and watched the horse or dog race they spent money on. Apart from that, he highlighted the fact that the Scottish Government was the one imposing most stringent measures on the sector, with betting shops elsewhere in the UK being able to resume operation under safety and health measures that would ensure social distancing.