Betting shops and casinos in England will close for at least a month from Thursday (5th November).
The shutdown of these outlets forms part of incoming strict lockdown restrictions mandated by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Non-essential outlets across England will remain locked until 2nd December to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Betting shops had only been open again since mid-June, following the end of the first lockdown earlier this year. Land-based casinos have been back for even shorter, with the government only mandating their reopening from 15th August.
According to the Department for Health and Social Care, customers in betting shops are more likely to spend more time in confined spaces. Therefore, the risk of spreading the virus was higher.
The Racing Post has warned that the month-long shutdown could result in costs of up to eight figures for retail gambling businesses.
A spokesperson for the UK government said:
“Our regional approach is designed to reduce transmission whilst minimising the wider impact on the economy.
“The closure of betting shops in some areas has been jointly agreed with local leaders as we know the virus thrives in enclosed spaces where people can remain for a sustained period.”
Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) Chief Executive Michael Dugher slammed the decision, saying it was “not remotely about science”. Fred Done, founder of Betfred, agreed with Dugher.
England Golf was also critical of officials’ decisions to impose another lockdown, referring to the decision to shut golf courses as “counter-productive”.
Top-level sports allowed to continue
Unlike the first lockdown, professional sports in England will not have to shut down again. This means that the country’s top footballing leagues will be able to continue, albeit it behind closed doors. The same goes for horse racing.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has released a statement, in which it said:
“The horseracing industry has worked hard to maintain the safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and work. We have done all we can to play our part and will continue to do so under the new restrictions.”
In its statement, the BHA also pointed to the continuation of horse racing as “welcome news for the tens of thousands whose livelihoods depend on our industry”.
FA Cup in the air for now
Despite no further disruptions to top-level sports, non-elite events must stop once more. As a result, the FA Cup first round is up in the air. According to the Daily Mail, the government will determine whether or not it can go ahead. 10 clubs are affected by the government’s decision to call off non-elite-level sports.
The FA has released a statement, in which it “acknowledged” the government’s decision to impose another national lockdown. The association also mentioned that it would “communicate any necessary updates in due course”.