Betting shops in the United Kingdom will reopen on April 12, a Downing Street spokesperson has confirmed in light of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Monday statement that the country would start gradually lifting COVID-19 restrictions.
Betting Shops Readying to Reopen on April 12
The United Kingdom is preparing to lift restrictions on betting shops allowing the venues to reopen starting from April 12 in England, gaming media outlet iGB has confirmed. The measure includes other gaming establishments, which are to follow a month after, depending on the epidemiologic situation in the country.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed a “road out of lockdown” during a parliamentary hearing on Monday, with a planned lift-up of anti-COVID-19 measures starting as early as March 8.
While the prime minister made no official reference to betting shops, a spokesperson for Downing Street confirmed that betting shops should start reopening in mid-April. Other gaming venues will only begin reopening on May 17, assuming the country continues to tackle the infection rate at its present pace.
Johnson cautioned that any reopening would be driven by hard data. Just like the government introduced phased shutdowns based on tiers last year so would the new reopenings need to follow strict numbers. Transitioning between phases would take at least three to five weeks, the prime minister confirmed.
Gaming Venues Bear Brunt of Lockdown
Closures of betting shops and gambling venues have been a hotly-debated topic with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) insisting that such properties should be allowed to operate owing to their health and sanitary protocols.
Yet, since January 5, 2021, all gaming venues have been shuttered. The BGC has championed the reopening of such properties along with non-essential retail, but the government has not responded to appeals.
When the country was moving towards tiered shut-downs, the BGC was one of the strongest advocates to allow casinos to operate freely, citing scientific evidence, in the words of Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive.
The trade group argued that casinos can help the country start recovering economically by allowing the properties to operate past the 10 pm curfew. Meanwhile, the prime minister feels confident that the new reopening should be “one-way,” meaning that Johnson doesn’t expect such large-scale restrictions to be re-introduced.
The impacts that casino and betting shops shutdowns have had on gambling businesses will continue to be calculated throughout the year. Yet, some fears have been overblown, lawmakers and legislators believe. For one, the country’s gambling firms have been accused of “overstating black market” numbers.
The government is also planning to allow live audiences to return to sporting events, which would boost ailing finances for many governing bodies and athletic organizations, including the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the Football Association (FA).