The UK government has ordered all casinos and betting shops to close their doors amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK government has instructed all of the country’s betting shops, bingo halls and casinos to temporarily shut their doors as part of broader measures to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
At the same time, the Chancellor the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced plans to help protect jobs that were affected by the closures.
Retail gambling businesses closed
On Friday 20 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that entertainment and hospitality premises, including casinos, bingo halls and betting shops, would be required to temporarily close as part of additional social distancing measures.
The closure of these venues was not limited to gambling businesses as restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms, museums and other premises were also ordered to temporarily close.
The government also said that the closures are enforceable by law in both England and Wales due to the threat coronavirus poses to the public’s health. Therefore, any businesses that flout that government’s Health Protection Regulations 2020 will be in breach of the law.
Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, with support from the police, will be responsible for monitoring compliance with the new regulations.
Job protection for affected businesses
As well as announcing the closure of leisure properties, the Chancellor also announced several measures to provide financial support to businesses and their staff. On Friday, Sunak outlined details of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is intended to help protect people’s job that have been affected by the closures.
Sunak said: “That means workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer cannot afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for at least three months – and I will extend the scheme for longer if necessary.”
Prior to the unveiling of the job retention scheme, Sunak announced a series of measures intended to help UK business that may be disproportionately affected the coronavirus pandemic. Under these measures, all leisure, retail and hospitality businesses would be exempt from paying business rates for a 12-month period. However, the announcement drew criticism from the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) as gambling businesses were excluded from the relief package.
The state of the UK gambling industry amid the pandemic
The UK’s gambling sector is one of many business sectors that are facing significant losses due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, several gambling businesses, including Flutter, William Hill and The Stars Group, announced that they predict to make significant losses due to the cancellation of several sporting events across the globe.
In the UK, the Jockey Club announced that the 2020 Randox Health Grand National Festival will not take place this year. The English Premier League (EPL), FA, EFL and WSL have also agreed to postpone all professional matches in England. Greyhound racing events will continue behind closed doors without an audience.
In the US, the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, decided to postpone sporting events indefinitely after a player for the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. The NCAA has also put March Madness on hold.