England’s Gambling Venues Given Date for Reopening
Under new plans announced by the UK government, betting shops in England will be allowed to reopen on 12 April followed by gaming centers, bingo halls, and casinos on 17 May.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the country’s “roadmap out of lockdown” with a gradual reopening of the country beginning on 8 March. While the documents released by the government did not include specific mentions of betting shops, bingo halls, casinos, or adult gaming centers, a Downing Street spokesman has since confirmed that betting shops will open in the second stage, on 12 April, and the other venues in the third stage, on 17 May.
According to Johnson’s plan, each stage will depend on data about the spread of the coronavirus, and there will be at least five weeks between each stage. That means that if an earlier stage is pushed back, then the later stages will be delayed by the same time.
England’s gambling venues have been closed since at least 5 January when the third nationwide lockdown began. However, many other venues closed much earlier due to regional restrictions under the tiered system.
Earlier in February, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) called upon the UK government to allow betting shops and casinos to reopen at the same time as other similar businesses as many are struggling after such long closures.
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. The night-time economy has taken a hammering during the pandemic and draconian restrictions, including the 10pm curfew, have made a difficult situation more desperate for many businesses.
Johnson has insisted that the reopening schedule will be a one-way street and that no further restrictions will be imposed once they have been lifted. The new rules will apply just to England, but the government is working with the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on similar plans.