BGC calls for retail betting shops to be put at the centre of high street recovery inquiry

The Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) chair has called upon the Communities and Local Government Select Committee to place retail betting shops at the forefront of high street recovery.

Today, Brigid Simmonds, chair of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged the Communities and Local Government Select Committee to place the needs of the retail betting industry at the forefront of its inquiry into supporting high streets following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

BGC calls for support of retail betting industry

In a statement published today, Simmonds praised the fact that the UK’s highstreet betting shops and land-based casinos have reopened to the public following the closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

In the statement, Simmonds argued for the importance of supporting the UK’s land-based gambling industry at a time when high street foot traffic only a quarter of what it was before the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

Simmonds highlighted that 6,900 betting shops across the UK employ around 40,000 people and that casinos employ an additional 14,000 people and have contributed £1.3bn in tax contributions in the last three years. 

Simmonds said: “The committee’s recommendations need to be hard hitting and courageous. When hospitality, leisure and tourism – including our betting shops and casinos – make such a vital contribution to the UK economy, their needs must be at the forefront of our economic recovery.”

The BGC’s chair also said that visitors to land-based gambling venues also support the high street on a larger scale as 82% of betting shop visitors attend at least once a week and 89% of those customers will go on to visit other high street shops.

Simmonds also highlighted that with fewer international visitors, casinos have seen business slow down, compared to before the pandemic. The statement also states that if nothing is done “many leisure businesses will not survive this autumn and our high streets will become ghost towns.”

The BGC chair also called for the Select Committee inquiry to look at business rates, which she claims have been in need of a fundamental review for several years. Simmonds said that the central government, local communities and local government will need to take action in order to bring positive changes to UK high streets.

Betting shops and casinos reopened across the UK

Simmonds’ statement comes after gambling establishments across the UK were permitted to reopen as coronavirus restrictions were eased.

As part of the UK’s national lockdown, land-based gambling venues were ordered to close in the middle of March 2020. On 15 June, betting shops and other non-essential retail businesses were allowed to reopen in England.

Casinos in England were given the green light to reopen from 15 August, after the government delayed the reopening of casinos. Scotland’s land-based casino industry followed suit on 24 August.

All businesses were required to complete a risk assessment and ensure they have adequate health and safety measures in place to minimise the risk of transmitting the coronavirus before reopening to the public.

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