Ireland Betting Stores Close After COVID-19 Reopening Confusion

  • Retail sportsbooks advised to shut down after many had only resumed operations 24 hours prior
  • IBA got access to statutory instrument on June 15, saying betting stores had to wait until June 29
  • It previously advised members to reopen June 8 as per government's accelerated reopening plan
  • Northern Ireland's sports betting retailers also confused over business resumption date
Closed store sign attributing closure to COVID-19
Irish betting stores have been advised to close until June 29 after a statutory instrument indicated they had reopened too soon. [Image:]

Statutory instrument says sportsbooks must wait

Many of Ireland’s betting stores have had to close their doors only 24 hours after reopening. Most retail sportsbooks opened on Monday, June 15, only to be informed the next day that they would have to wait until June 29 to resume operations.

not considered among the non-essential retail stores permitted to reopen from June 8

The clarification came after a statutory instrument was made available to the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) on June 15, despite having been published the previous week. The guidelines detail the types of businesses that were not considered among the non-essential retail stores permitted to reopen from June 8. The IBA, which represents the majority of Ireland’s 814 betting stores, had previously advised members that they could reopen on June 8 under phase two of the national business reopening plan, at the same time as other types of non-essential outlets.

Irish betting stores will now remain closed until the June 29 launch of phase three of the reopening plan.

Operators caught off guard

Many sports betting operators were surprised by the latest development. A number of immediate closures followed, including all Ladbrokes and Paddy Power stores. An emergency IBA meeting called on Tuesday evening saw most members confirm they would not be opening their stores on Wednesday, according to chairperson Sharon Byrne.

A few businesses still planned on opening their retail betting outlets the next day, contrary to the IBA’s advice. BoyleSports was among the companies whose stores remained open on Tuesday, along with a few independent firms. 

A number of independent betting stores resumed business on June 8, in line with the IBA’s initial instructions. The larger operators, such as Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, waited another week to ensure that all proper social distancing measures were in place.

Uncertainty in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has reported similar levels of confusion, as members of the Northern Ireland Turf Guardians’ Association (NITGA) are still uncertain about when they can reopen their betting stores. 

betting shops were on the exclusions list

The UK region’s government gave many non-essential retailers the all-clear to reopen on June 11, with some exceptions. Betting shops were on the exclusions list along with bars, casinos, gyms, restaurants, bingo halls, and movie theaters.

Across the channel, betting stores in England reopened on June 15, just in time for the start of the Royal Ascot race meeting.