BGC Unhappy with Merseyside Casino and Betting Shop Closures

The Betting and Gaming Council shared its disappointment with the newly planned restrictions which will come into effect tomorrow at the Merseyside region. Casinos, betting shops, pubs, bars, and other leisure businesses in the affected region will shut doors aiming at fighting the COVID-19 spread.

Merseyside Region Rolls Out New COVID-19 Restrictions Tomorrow

Monday, October 12, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced enhanced restrictions for businesses in Merseyside. This is a direct result of a recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases. Yesterday, a report was released by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) outlining an “exponential” rise in positive COVID-19 cases in the late weeks. SAGE has been advising Prime Minister since September to introduce enhanced restrictions to reduce the rise of the positive cases.

Under the new restrictions, pubs, bars, gyms, leisure centers, casinos, betting shops, and adult gaming centers will close tomorrow as the Merseyside region is entering a “very high” alert level. The new restrictions apply for the boroughs of:

  • Liverpool
  • Knowsley
  • Wirral
  • St Helens
  • Sefton
  • Halton

But the new restrictions quickly got the attention of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) who deemed the actions as “hugely disappointing”. According to the council, the hundreds of betting shops and six casinos are employing 2,300 people in the Liverpool city region. Furthermore, the BGC argued that there is no evidence that those businesses are contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

Is There Evidence Relating COVID-19 with Betting Shops?

Michael Dugher, BGC CEO urged Oliver Downden, MP and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport to provide evidence that betting shops as part of high street retail are higher risk for COVID-19 spread.

Fact is there is no evidence,”

BGC CEO, Michael Dugher

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) released a statement outlining that it is “very concerned” about the betting shop closures. The Association said that the venues have been safely operating under the COVID-19 secure protocols since their reopening in June. Furthermore, BHA outlined that the betting shops have demonstrated their ability to safely operate without breaching any social distancing restrictions.

We strongly encourage the Government make a fully evidence-based decision on any betting shop closures, cognizant of the significant wider impacts on British racing and other associated industries,”

British Horseracing Authority

The BGC CEO expressed gratitude for the statement released by the BHA. Dugher replied with “big thanks” to the BHA for warning about the damaging impact that betting shop closures could have on the racing industry. With that in mind, back in September, the BGC deemed the COVID-19 restrictions as “damning” for casinos in England.

The New Three-Tier COVID-19 Restrictions

The new restrictions presented by Prime Minister Johnson outlined a “medium”, “high” and “very high” alert levels under which England may be placed. The “medium” alert level represents the current measures for fighting the COVID-19 spread as well as the 10 pm curfew and restriction of gathering no more than six people.

On the other hand, regions, where the “high” alert level is introduced, will be able to enforce local restrictions. The main goal will be to reduce the mixing of different households indoors.

Starting from tomorrow, the Merseyside region will be under a “very high” level of alert. As noted, this level introduces the closure of casinos, pubs, bars, and other leisure facilities. Furthermore, under the “very high” level of alert, social mixing indoors and in private gardens will be banned. In addition, regions on a “very high” level of alert will be allowed to roll out extra restrictions if necessary.

Here, it is important to mention that for the moment, schools, non-essential retail shops as well as universities will not be closed regardless of which level of alert is introduced.

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