Scotland’s betting shops must follow draconian restrictions, which may be harmful for the industry, the BGC has said. BGC CEO urges the Scottish government for changes in the restrictions.
Scotland’s Post-COVID-19 Restrictions Harmful for The Industry
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which is the gambling trade organization, has criticized the Scottish government for the additional restrictions applied to betting shops in the country. Back in March, betting shops were ordered to shut their doors. This was a broader government’s effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the country and UK.
With that being said, betting shops in Scotland were allowed to reopen on June 29. After being shut for some three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, upon reopening their doors, operators had to introduce restrictions.
Among the restrictions, which were mandatory for all betting shops in the country, there were fewer seats available in each venue. The number of gaming machines was also reduced. Operators who wanted to operate also had to agree to no live racing on TV in their venues.
According to the BGC, those restrictions are extremely harmful for the industry. Keeping this in mind, the betting shops in Scotland showed 95% lower turnover when compared to the period prior to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
BGC Urges for Changes in the “Draconian” Restrictions
The Betting and Gaming Council pointed out that some 900 betting shops in Scotland are affected by the enhanced restrictions. The council did not miss to point out that the restrictions in Scotland are far more enhanced than other parts of the UK. With that being said, BGC CEO Michael Dugher called for immediate actions by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. According to Dugher, the restrictions were stricter than needed and may negatively impact the sports betting industry. In his own words Dugher said:
Our members warned in advance the draconian restrictions being proposed by the Scottish government were unnecessary and would have a devastating impact on their businesses – sadly they have been proved right.“
Dugher continued by saying: “Sturgeon was right to say she wanted every business trading viably, but the government is single-handedly wrecking the viability of hundreds of betting shops in Scotland.” He continued by stressing: “We urge Sturgeon to intervene before it’s too late.” The BGC CEO pointed out that some restrictions are acceptable, but said that this can be done at the entrance, similar to other retail businesses in Scotland.
The Scottish Government Responds to BGC
Spokeswoman on behalf of the Scottish government responded to BGC by saying: “We don’t want any businesses to remain closed, or open with restrictions in place, for a day longer than is necessary but public health is paramount.“
The spokeswoman continued by outlining that although restrictions are in place, betting shops can still operate and punters can place bets only. The spokeswoman further pointed out that by doing so, “clusters of people gathering” watching live sports will be avoided. In terms of the machines which were switched off, the spokeswoman pointed out that this measure aims at restricting COVID-19 transmission through surfaces.
With that being said, the BGC has said that the restrictive measures affect some 900 betting shops in Scotland. In terms of employment, this translates to roughly some 4,500 employment places which may be in jeopardy if the restrictive measures are not eased.