BGC urges Scottish casino rethink as hundreds of betting shops reopen

The Betting and Gaming Council has lauded the reopening of hundreds of betting shops across Scotland, but has urged ministers to permit the nation’s casino properties to follow suit.

The group has said the economic contribution of betting shops and casinos will be “vital” in the UK’s ongoing recovery, with the latest plea again documenting the range of anti-COVID measures in place throughout the latter.

Around 400 shops, half of Scotland’s total, have been shut since the most stringent Level 4 restrictions were imposed three weeks ago across 11 local authority areas.

However, after those regions moved down a Tier level, they are now allowed to re-open alongside other high street shops.

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “It’s great news for staff and customers that betting shops can open their doors again.

“They have introduced a range of anti-COVID measures, including Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and strict social distancing rules, so they are a safe environment for people to work and enjoy a bet.

“But so have casinos, so they should be able to safely open their doors again as well.”

The move is lauded as “a huge boost” for  2000 members of staff who work in the shops, which also pay £50m a year in tax to the Treasury plus £13.5m to horse racing through the betting levy and media rights.

Urging the Scottish government to permit casinos to also reopen in Level 3, Dugher added: “The economic contribution betting shops – and casinos – make in terms of tax paid to the Treasury, as well as the jobs they provide, will be vital as the UK recovers from the impact of the pandemic.

“Betting shops’ contribution to horse racing – which has suffered financially as a result of the ban on spectators – also cannot be overstated. Scotland’s five racecourses have taken a huge hit due to the pandemic and we are delighted that revenue from shops can now flow through to the racing industry.”