UK retail betting shops could reopen from 15 June

Betting shops and arcades have been included on the list of non-essential retail businesses that may be allowed to reopen in June.

During the UK government’s daily coronavirus briefing held yesterday (25 May), Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced provisional plans to reopen all non-essential retail businesses on 15 June.

During the briefing, Johnson revealed the UK government will manage a “staged reopening” of England’s retail sector.

The reopening of the UK’s high street stores will begin with the reopening of car showrooms and outdoor markets from 1 June. Should the conditions of the government’s “five key tests” be maintained in early June, lockdown restrictions will be eased allowing all non-essential retail businesses in England to reopen from 15 June.

Betting shops and arcades will be allowed to reopen

Shortly after the briefing, the UK government published new “retail sector guidance” which contains details on the measures retail businesses must have in place to ensure in-store hygiene and social distancing among customers. The guidance also contains a list of non-essential retail businesses that will be allowed to reopen.

Betting shops and arcades are included on the list of non-essential retail businesses that will be allowed to reopen on 15 June if conditions are met.

The government’s new guidance for retail businesses states that “Shops and branches include all retail stores, including –  food retailers, chemists, hardware/homeware stores, fashion shops, charity shops, betting shops and arcades, tailors, dress fitters and fashion designers, car dealerships, auction houses, antique stores, retail art galleries, and similar types of retail.”

While betting shops and arcades will be allowed to reopen, the lockdown orders for the leisure industry will remain in place. Leisure businesses will face a much tougher set of requirements before they will be allowed to reopen. This extends to pubs, casinos, clubs and gyms.

The UK gambling sector and COVID-19

The UK’s gambling industry has been hit incredibly hard by the coronavirus pandemic. As nearly every major sport across the globe announced that events would be postponed due to the virus, sportsbook operators, including GVC Holdings, William Hill, Flutter and The Stars Group, prepared for losses of up to £150m.

The country’s retail gambling sector also came to a standstill in March when the UK government ordered casinos and betting shops to close to help halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Days after the shutdown order was issued, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, revealed several new measures to help businesses that may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. One of these measures would make all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses exempt from paying business rates for 12 months.

As a result of the lockdown, more UK residents have been gambling online. Due to this, the UK Gambling Commission issued new lockdown guidance to UK operators. These guidelines reiterated the need to prioritise player safety during the lockdown.

Earlier this month, the Betting and Gaming Council wrote to the Welsh government, calling for the extension of the Business Rates Retail Discount to include bingo halls, betting shops and casinos to help protect industry jobs.

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