BGC urges Scottish Government to lift “draconian” restrictions

The Betting and Gaming Council has called for the Scottish government to lift restrictions preventing businesses in the gambling sector from reopening after lockdown.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has demanded that the Scottish Government lift “draconian restrictions” that damage the viability of Scottish bookmakers from resuming business after the coronavirus lockdown.

This comes after the BGC called for the UK government to accelerate casino reopening plans as restrictions were eased.

Betting shops reopen in Scotland with severe restrictions

Betting shops in Scotland were allowed to reopen on 29 June following a period of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Scottish National Party (SNP) ministers introduced last-minute restrictions for these businesses.

These restrictions forced betting shops to remove chairs, switch off gaming machines, and prohibited venues from broadcasting live racing events.

Scottish finance secretary Kate Forbes sanctioned the restrictions and said that decision was made in order to “avoid clusters of people gathering to watch live sport.”

BGC slams the SNP’s decision

The BGC has slammed the Scottish government’s decision and has said that the SNP needs to urgently rethink the reopening measures for betting shops as 4,500 people are at risk of losing their jobs.

BGC CEO Michael Dugher called for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to take action.

Dugher said: “Our members warned in advance that the draconian restrictions being proposed by the Scottish Government were unnecessary and would have a devastating impact on their businesses – sadly they have been proved right.”

“Nicola Sturgeon was right to say she wanted every business ‘trading viably’ but the Scottish Government is single-handedly wrecking the viability of hundreds of betting shops in Scotland.  Scottish betting shops are bracing themselves for closures and there are thousands of jobs at stake unless Nicola Sturgeon re-thinks.”

The BGC also highlighted that businesses in the sector have seen their turnover drop by up to 95% compared to before the coronavirus lockdown.

Dugher added: Making bookies open without any chairs or live racing shows a complete misunderstanding of how they operate. Customers don’t sit in for hours – they like to pop in for a bet and then sit down and watch how their horse or greyhound got on.

“I’ve seen how betting shops elsewhere in the UK have been able to re-open perfectly safely with social distancing and anti-Covid measures like screens and hand sanitisers, and the exact same measures are in place in Scotland.

“We would urge Nicola Sturgeon to intervene before it’s too late.”

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