Seeking a clear plan
The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is calling on the UK government to guarantee that casinos and betting stores will be able to reopen in December.
England is going into a full COVID-19 lockdown from November 5 until December 2. All non-essential stores, restaurants, pubs, entertainment facilities, and leisure facilities are required to shut down. Unlike the initial lockdown in March, professional sports will be able to continue despite the incoming restrictions. The BGC tweeted out a statement on the matter on Monday:
The industry association wants the government to take a “science-led approach” to reopening these establishments. Gambling-related businesses want to avoid the same situation as earlier this year, when they were under the “non-essential” category and could not reopen for months. The BGC believes that casinos do not really contribute to the spread of the virus.
In its statement, the BGC did support the decision for a further lockdown, but reiterated the health and safety standards of gambling venues in the UK. BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “Nothing matters more to our industry than the safety of our staff and customers.”
Welcomes furlough extension
With the imminent lockdown, the BGC did welcome the extension of the COVID-19 furlough scheme in England until at least December 2. Dugher noted that this move will help to protect land-based gambling sector jobs across Great Britain.
The furlough scheme that will be in place for this latest lockdown will see employees who are out of work getting 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a limit of £2,500 ($3,229).
aims to avoid permanent lay-offs by helping out employers financially
The cost to employers for retaining workers will be lower than what it had been up until November 2. This furlough scheme aims to avoid permanent lay-offs by helping out employers financially, with grants also being available to businesses.
A struggling sector
COVID-19 has been a major issue for gambling venues and betting stores in the UK since the pandemic first began. All of these establishments closed on March 23. Betting stores were able to reopen on June 15, bingo halls on July 4, and casinos in the middle of August.
The facilities reopened with reduced capacity and extensive health and safety standards in place. Rising COVID-19 cases also led to a 10pm curfew for casinos, a move that was heavily criticized by the BGC.
Over the past couple of weeks, a number of regions across the UK entered various stages of lockdown, which has already led to many gambling-related businesses temporarily closing.