As of Thursday, November 5th, England has entered their second lockdown, it’s not as strict as the first, schools and colleges are not closed, but non-essential retail and entertainment venues will be closed for at least a month. That means betting shops and casinos are closed again.
How will it affect betting?
This is the news that betting and gambling operators have been dreading, once again it is the retail shops that bear the brunt of the restrictions. Like many other nonessential services, they have spent a considerable amount of time and money making sure that their locations were as safe and as clean as possible. I’ll touch on the loss of business but even before that, the investments that they have already made in PPE, cleaning supplies, revamps of the locations for safety, and the rehiring/taking staff off furlough will all be for nothing if they can’t survive the next four weeks.
The money lost preparing for Covid pales in comparison to the business that retail stores will lose over the next four weeks. In response to this major shockwave in the betting industry, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have reaffirmed their 10 pledge Covid action plan:
- Increase safer gambling messages across all sites and direct to all customers.
- Step up interventions if customers increase time and spend beyond normal pre-crisis patterns.
- Actively promote deposit limits.
- Action to ensure appropriate and responsible advertising including monitoring volume.
- Report all illegal, rogue advertising from black market online operators.
- One-strike-and-you’re-out policy where affiliates breach pledges.
- Signpost help to GAMCARE and the National Gambling Helpline and GamStop for self-exclusion.
- Ongoing commitment to ensuring funding for Research Education and Treatment (RET).
- Welfare checks and well-being help for staff.
- Supporting the Government’s ‘National Effort’ with volunteers and facilities.
Comments from their Chief Executive
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher commented:
“Nothing matters more to our industry than the safety of our staff and customers, which is why we want to contribute to the national effort to defeat this virus.
“We also welcome the support for businesses forced to close under the second lockdown. But when we exit this, the Government must have a science-led approach and avoid the arbitrary and unnecessary decisions that led to random closures of casinos and betting shops, which damage employment and revenues to the Exchequer.”
“It’s also important that when the latest lockdown is over, betting shops are allowed to open safely along with other non-essential retail, as they were in June. Casinos, which have the best anti-COVID measures operating anywhere in hospitality and entertainment, should also reopen at the same time.
“At a time when there is widespread despair among sporting bodies, the Government needs to recognise that a healthy betting industry is vital to the funding of sport, and that betting shops in particular are critical to the financing of horseracing.”
It looks like the retail betting shops have resigned to their fate for now, but they are hoping for a fair shake when it comes time to reopen.
All is not lost, if you were a cynic, you could see this devastating blow to the retail sector as a major boost to the online betting and gambling market. This year has seen a boom in esports betting, online casinos, virtual betting sites, and more.
Considering that professional sports are still being played, the online betting market is poised to dominate the industry, at least for the next month.