Brigid Simmons, the boss of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), has called for the UK Government to do more to protect the retail gambling industry in the country, including high-street bookmakers and brick-and-mortar casino venues. The authorities have already allowed the abovementioned establishments to resume operations as part of the eased social distancing measures associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
In England, casinos were officially allowed to reopen on August 15th. The Betting and Gaming Council welcomed the decision as good news. Casino venues in Scotland and Wales, on the other hand, were given the green light to resume operations from August 24th and August 29th, respectively.
Despite the fact that brick-and-mortar gambling establishments are now able to provide their services to customers, Ms Simmonds has warned that the British retail gambling sector will only be able to survive in case the Government helps. She explained she was glad that land-based betting shops and casino venues across the UK had opened their doors again, but reminded that, according to the latest football data, visitors of the main retail gambling hubs are still less than a quarter of the levels reached before the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
The UK Land-Based Gambling Sector Suffered a Serious Blow Due to Coronavirus Pandemic
The chief of the UK gambling industry’s trade body reminded that with the UK economy officially in recession, it was extremely important for the sector to get politicians’ support. According to her, the UK Government needs to do everything possible to save the high-street gambling in the country, because such hubs are vital to local communities, not to mention they are some of the major contributors to the Treasury.
Ms Simmonds has called for the Communities and Local Government Select Committee that has been considering providing possible support to UK high street operators, not to think twice and make everything possible in order to help the industry. According to her, the support of the Committee would be vital to the sector, as high-street gambling businesses would be able to only survive through a mixture of support of the central and local Governments.
So far in 2020, the UK gambling industry’s trade body has been battling the effects of the impact that the coronavirus lockdown has had on its members, which were forced to shut their premises for three months as part of the Government’s efforts to slow down the further spread of the Covid-19 infection.
Currently, there are about 6,900 betting shops in the UK that employ around 40,000 people. According to a research that took place before the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, 82% o the customers of these betting shops visited one at least once a week, while 89% of those customers continued to visit other high-street shops. As mentioned above, the retail gambling sector has been one of the major contributors to the Treasury, so at a time of national crisis, keeping these contributions is extremely important, in Ms Simmonds.
Brick-and-mortar casinos also reopened in the middle of August, but they currently rely on domestic customers only, because international visitors are not an option for the time being.