BGC Condemns PM’s Betting Shop Shutdowns

October 14, 2020

- Grant Whittington

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to temporarily shutter all casinos and retail sports betting shops in Liverpool city has drawn everything but joy and jubilation from the country’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

Representative of roughly 90 per cent of all gaming hall operators, bookmakers, casino operators and Bingo halls country-wide, the London-based organisation only minutes after the Prime Minister’s announcement lashed out at the decision in utter dissatisfaction and disappointment.

Though the majority of the country is effectively now on medium alert, Liverpool has been demoted back to high, hence the immediate closure of all gyms, leisure facilities, retail betting shops, and casinos. This effectively means that none of the city’s 1.5 million inhabitants will for the foreseeable future be able to enjoy or make use of any of the mentioned amenities or services – including, of course, casino gaming and retail betting.

Massive Knock To Job Security

Probably the biggest frustration of all is that Liverpool’s six casinos and literally hundreds of retail betting shops employ around 2,300 people in the Liverpool city region alone. Job security is a major crisis in the U.K. right now and will only be exacerbated by the latest announcement and closures.

What the council has also described to be unacceptable and super frustrating is the notion (as expressed by its members) that there doesn’t appear to exist any concrete evidence that the city’s gaming establishments have contributed in any way to the rise in and spread of local infections. This makes Johnson’s announcement appear to have come from a place of ill regard and an overall casual and even flippant attitude.

Several More Affected Areas

Liverpool isn’t the only city suddenly dumped back into a state of stay-at-home disaster. According to a report ran by the British Broadcasting Commission (BBC), other areas pushed back into a state of high alert include Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cheshire. Large territories of each of these will be affected by the re-imposed restrictions.

Not only will residents of the above regions not be permitted to engage in any form of gambling, betting, live entertainment, and gym-based physical exercise, but they will furthermore also not be permitted to convene en masse indoors. Only members of the same household will be allowed to remain in physical contact with one another.

Those hospitality venues permitted to continue to do business – including restaurants and pubs – will only be allowed to trade daily until the hour of 10 p.m. The curfew will be strictly enforced and will remain in place until such time as the alert level is relaxed.

Whitty: Still Not Good Enough

Despite the blowback received from the Betting and Gaming Council, England’s Chief Medical Officer has pledged his full support to an even more rigorous approach. Professor Chris Whitty has reportedly told the country’s national broadcaster that he has no faith in the latest changes to the alert levels as far as a successful containing of the spread of infections is concerned. The recently announced measures will according to Whitty not prove nearly effective enough to get “on top of” the perilous dilemma.

That Whitty would be concerned about whether enough is indeed enough is understandable when considering the 43,000 lives lost in the United Kingdom since mid-March’s local outbreak.

The Prime Minister has in the meantime explained his decision as one prompted by the realisation that treading the narrow path has now become a matter of life and death and economic float or sink. Johnson also added that he was for the moment ruling out the need for the more extreme route of a nationwide lockdown.

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