Casinos and betting shops in Northern England and Scotland to close under coronavirus measures

More gambling venues across England and Scotland are set to close later this week as new coronavirus measures come into effect.

Gambling venues in Manchester and South Yorkshire will be required to close under new coronavirus restrictions, while Scotland plans to keep its gambling venues closed for an additional week.

Venues in Manchester and South Yorkshire to close

On Tuesday night, the UK government confirmed that the Greater Manchester area will move into the tier three bracket, the highest tier of England’s tiered risk system for coronavirus. Manchester’s tier three restrictions will come into effect from 12:01 am on Friday 23 October.

Under the tier three rating, measures include prohibiting social mixing indoors and in gardens as well as the closures of some hospitality and leisure businesses. This includes the temporary closures of casinos, betting shops, bingo halls and other adult gaming facilities. 

Shortly after the announcement was made, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) took to Twitter to criticize the government’s decision. 

In a tweet, the BGC said: “A reminder that closing betting shops in Greater Manchester will deny the Treasury up to £54m in tax, and deprive horseracing of vital millions in levy and media rights payments at a time when it is already suffering due to a lack of spectators.”

It was also announced yesterday that South Yorkshire will be placed under tier three restrictions. These measures will come into effect exactly 24 hours after Manchester’s restrictions come into place.

This decision was also met with criticism from the BGC, which described the government’s move as “hugely disappointing.”

The industry standards body said: “Hugely disappointing news that betting shops and casinos employing 1,300 in South Yorkshire will be forced to close their doors after the region was placed under Tier 3 #COVID19 restrictions. This is despite a lack of evidence that they contribute to the spread of the virus.

“As well as employing over 1,000 people, South Yorkshire’s betting shops pay £24m a year in tax and £6m in levy payments and media rights to racing, which is already struggling due to the lack of spectators.

“The region’s 3 Covid-secure casinos employ 270 people and pay £11.2m in tax to the Treasury every year. The Government must come up with a financial package to ensure their long-term future.”

The BGC’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, has also written to the UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma urging him to halt the closures of gambling venues under the tier three measures.

What’s happening in Scotland

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced new national restrictions which will be introduced in the country next month as coronavirus cases in Scotland continue to rise.

Earlier this month, Sturgeon announced temporary measures which saw indoor leisure facilities in the Central Belt area close for 16 days. These measures will be extended for another week.

The restrictions include the closures of casino venues and will remain in place until 2 November at the earliest. After this, a new five-tier system of virus alert levels will be introduced.

The Central belt area covers the five health board areas of Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire and Lothian.

Other closures in England

Other parts of England have also been placed in the highest tier of the coronavirus rating system, resulting in the closure of several gambling establishments.

Last week, the government placed Lancashire in the “very high” tier of its coronavirus alert level resulting in the closure of the county’s betting shops and three casinos. These betting shops employ 1,100 staff, pay £24m in taxes a year and contribute £6.6m to the British racing industry through horserace betting levy and media rights payments. Lancashire’s three casinos contribute £6m a year in taxes.

Similar measures were imposed on the Liverpool city region which resulted in the temporary closure of 350 betting shops and six casinos, employing 2,300 people.

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