BGC demands reopening of betting shops and casinos to contribute to UK economic recovery

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is adamant in their call that retail betting shops and casinos must be allowed to reopen, as the Prime Minister is expected to announce a roadmap out of lockdown on 22 February.

The 44,000 people that are employed by the BGC members have stated that they are ready to support the economic recovery and therefore must be given the same opportunities to reopen as other parts of the economy. Betting shops need to be allowed to reopen in line with other non-essential retailers while casinos are to be given same treatment as hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants.

The numbers do not lie, the industry’s contribution to the UK economy is evident. In 2019-20 The Betting and Gaming industry paid £3.2 billion in taxes to the UK Exchequer. Betting shops employ 32,500 people and generate almost £2.8 billion for the economy. The casino industry is worth £1 billion to the economy and employs around 11,500 people.

Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of BGC, stated: “The pace at which the vaccine is being rolled out across the UK has been hugely impressive. Britain is at the forefront of this global effort thanks to the hard work of NHS teams and volunteers up and down the country. UK Government Ministers also deserve credit for the success of this roll out and for the support it has given to businesses throughout the pandemic. The past year has been a torrid time for businesses and government support has been a lifeline for many.

“As the vaccine roll out continues and the country begins to emerge from lockdown, it is important that businesses are able to plan effectively for reopening. Ministers must be clear from the outset what the next few months will look like and there should be a consistent approach across the sectors.

“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. It is vital that ministers allow them to play their part in stimulating the high street, along with other non-essential retailers.

“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. Ministers must allow casinos to reopen at the same time as other hospitality businesses including pubs and they must scrap the curfew. It didn’t work last summer and it won’t work now.

“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.”

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