The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on the UK Government to put betting shops and casinos on a “level playing field” with other non-essential businesses as England is set to map out its route out of lockdown.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to announce how lockdown restrictions will be eased in England on 22 February, including when retail and hospitality business can open up.
He’s also expected to announce when schools can reopen and when larger group meetings are allowed.
England went into its third lockdown on 4 January when Johnson announced a stay at home order for the public, with the majority of retail and hospitality businesses forced shut.
And the BGC has said the latest easing of restrictions must give the land-based gambling industry the same opportunities to reopen as the rest of the hospitality sector.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “Betting shops must be allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail. Last summer, when most betting shops were able to open, they showed that they have best-in-class anti-COVID measures compared to any other part of the high street to protect customers and staff. Likewise, casinos are eager to help Britain get back on its feet.
“There will be no let-up in our commitment to safety, but we need the economy to open up again – not least if we are to revive the country’s tax take and fund vital public services like the NHS. But the thousands of people employed in betting shops and casinos deserve nothing less than a level playing field, so that everyone gets the same opportunities to recover.”
The announcement by the Prime Minister comes at a time when coronavirus cases are falling in the country, recorded at slightly more than 12,000 on 18 February, while more than 16.4 million have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.