Welsh betting shops and casinos to close during “firebreak” lockdown

Bettings shops, casinos and gaming arcades in Wales are set to close on Friday as the country enters a short lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Betting shops, casinos and gaming arcades in Wales will close from Friday 23 October after First Minister Mark Drakeford announced yesterday that Wales will enter a short “firebreak” lockdown to help prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

Between 9 and 15 October, Public Health Wales recorded 4,127 new confirmed coronavirus cases and noted a seven-day rolling incidence rate in Wales at more than 130 cases per 100,000 people.

Wales’ “firebreak” lockdown

The so-called “firebreak” lockdown will come into effect at 6 pm on 23 October and will run through to 9 November. 

Similar to the UK’s national lockdown earlier this year people living in Wales will be told to stay and work from home. In addition to this, pub restaurants, non-essential retail businesses and entertainment facilities, which includes betting shops and casinos, will be forced to close.

During this lockdown period, people will be prohibited from meeting with people from other households and face coverings must be worn in all indoor public spaces.

These new restrictions will apply to everyone living in Wales and will replace the existing local measures.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “This is the moment to come together; to play our part in a common endeavour to protect the NHS and save lives. This will not be easy, but we will do it together.”

The Welsh government also confirmed it will provide a package of approximately £300m to support affected businesses in the country in addition to the job support schemes on offer from the UK government.

BGC calls for more support

Although the Welsh government has pledged additional financial support for affected businesses, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) called for more targeted support for the Welsh gambling industry.

Casinos in Wales were forced to close in mid-March during the UK’s national lockdown and were not permitted to reopen until 29 August.

In a tweet, the BGC said: “The BGC is urging the government to come up with the necessary package of financial support for businesses affected, including 366 betting shops and three casinos employing 2,000 people between them.”

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the BGC has consistently criticised the UK government over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic in relation to the gambling sector and the support available to affected companies.

Restrictions in England

Wales’ “firebreak” lockdown comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a three-tier covid alert level for different parts of England.

At the time of writing, betting shops and casinos across several parts of England have been forced to temporarily close their doors due to coronavirus restrictions.

Last week, the government placed Lancashire in the “very high” tier of its coronavirus alert level. 

As a result of the new measures, all of the county’s betting shops and three casinos have been ordered to close their doors indefinitely. The 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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