BGC welcomes furlough extension as England moves towards lockdown

The Betting and Gaming Council has praised the government’s decision to extend the furlough scheme ahead of a second nationwide lockdown in England.

The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the government’s decision to extend the furlough scheme after announcing that England will enter a second nation-wide lockdown on Thursday.

Over the weekend, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a month-long nationwide lockdown across England which will run until at least 2 December. During the four-week lockdown, non-essential shops, leisure facilities, restaurants, pubs and entertainment facilities will be forced to close their doors.

Similar to the first lockdown from earlier this year, all gambling venues in England will also be forced to close from Thursday. This will include bettings shops, bingo halls and casinos. However, unlike the first lockdown, professional sports will be allowed to continue behind closed doors.

Furlough scheme to be extended

The government also revealed that due to the lockdown, it would extend the coronavirus furlough scheme until 2 December.

The BGC’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, welcomed the decision and said that it would help protect jobs across the land-based gambling market.

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.

Second lockdown could deal another blow to the industry

The announcement of a second coronavirus lockdown marks the latest blow to the UK’s land-based gambling sector.

With the UK’s nationwide lockdown on 23 March, all gambling venues across the country were forced to close and began to reopen from mind-June. Betting shops were the first to reopen on 15 June, bingo halls followed on 4 July and casinos reopened in August.

However, as venues were allowed to reopen several measures were introduced to help halt the spread of the virus which included forcing casinos in England to close at 10 pm every night.

These measures were met with criticism from the BGC and Dugher has once again urged the government to adopt a “science-led approach” when England exits its second lockdown.

Dugher said: “It’s also important that when the latest lockdown is over, betting shops are allowed to open safely along with other non-essential retail, as they were in June. Casinos, which have the best anti-Covid-19 measures operating anywhere in hospitality and entertainment, should also reopen at the same time.

“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.”

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