The BGC urges the Government to follow a ‘science-led approach’

The Betting and Gaming Council has urged the Government to allow casinos and betting to safely re-open when the latest England-wide lockdown ends. 

The BGC, which represents the regulated betting and gaming industry, has asked for a ‘science-led approach’ claiming there was no evidence that the venues have contributed to the spread of the virus. 

BGC chief executive, Michael Dugher, said: “Nothing matters more to our industry than the safety of our staff and customers, which is why we want to contribute to the national effort to defeat this virus.

“We also welcome the support for businesses forced to close under the second lockdown.

“But when we exit this, the Government must have a science-led approach and avoid the arbitrary and unnecessary decisions that led to random closures of casinos and betting shops, which damage employment and revenues to the Exchequer.”

During the Tiered approach, casinos in England were also ordered to close their doors at 10pm, despite their anti-COVID measures – including perspex screens, track and trace systems and strict social distancing – being described as ‘the best in the hospitality and leisure sector’ by senior public health officials who inspected them.

Meanwhile, those in Tier 3 were ordered to close entirely, despite other venues, such as pubs, being allowed to stay open, provided they serve substantial meals.

Dugher said he welcomed the extension to the furlough scheme which has been announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak but stressed it was ‘vital’ that when the latest lockdown is lifted, casinos and betting shops are allowed to re-open from day one so they can get back to contributing to the economy rather than relying on Government subsidies.

He continued: “At a time when there is widespread despair among sporting bodies, the Government also needs to recognise that a healthy betting industry is vital to the funding of sport, and that betting shops in particular are critical to the financing of horseracing.”

The BGC’s call follows growing parliamentary pressure for greater transparency from the Government amid concerns that ministers are not following the science.

Leading MPs have tabled parliamentary questions demanding the Government publish the Public Health England advice they have received, as well as any data they have justifying their decision process.