The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on the UK Government to reopen casinos and betting shops at the same time as other hospitality businesses after lockdown.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today announced a roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions in England as Covid-19 cases fall and vaccination rates rise. On Friday, the BGC published a blog post calling on the Government to give the gambling industry a “level playing field” when it comes to the reopening of non-essential businesses.
In the post, the BGC reiterates how the brick-and-mortar gambling industry supported the national effort against Covid-19 by implementing all required anti-Covid measures at betting shops and casinos.
The organisation then stresses that its members, which employ more than 40,000 people and generates more than £3 billion in taxes, are “ready to support the economic recovery” and “must be given the same opportunities to reopen as other parts of the economy” once lockdown ends.
Michael Dugher, the Chief Executive of the BGC, said in the post: “The pace at which the vaccine is being rolled out across the UK has been hugely impressive. Britain is at the forefront of this global effort thanks to the hard work of NHS teams and volunteers up and down the country.
“UK Government Ministers also deserve credit for the success of this rollout and for the support it has given to businesses throughout the pandemic. The past year has been a torrid time for businesses and government support has been a lifeline for many.”
“As the vaccine rollout continues and the country begins to emerge from lockdown, it is important that businesses are able to plan effectively for reopening. Ministers must be clear from the outset what the next few months will look like and there should be a consistent approach across the sectors.”
He continues: “Betting shops must be allowed to reopen alongside other non-essential retail. Last summer, when most betting shops were able to open, they showed that they have best-in-class anti-Covid measures compared to any other part of the high-street to protect customers and staff. It is vital that ministers allow them to play their part in stimulating the high-street, along with other non-essential retailers.
“Likewise, casinos are eager to help Britain get back on its feet. The night-time economy has taken a hammering during the pandemic and draconian restrictions, including the 10 PM curfew, have made a difficult situation more desperate for many businesses.
“Ministers must allow casinos to reopen at the same time as other hospitality businesses including pubs and they must scrap the curfew. It didn’t work last summer and it won’t work now.”
He ended the post by saying: “There will be no let-up in our commitment to safety, but we need the ecnomy to open up again – not least if we are to revive the country’s tax take and fund vital public services like the NHS. But the thousands of people employed in betting shops and casinos deserve nothing less than a level playing field, so that everyone gets the same opportunities to recover.”
The BGC’s blog post comes days after Debbie Husband, the National Director of Operations for Grosvenor Casino, wrote a blog post for the organisation’s website urging the Government to scrap the 10 PM casino curfew and give the brick-and-mortar gambling industry a chance to reopen successfully after lockdown.
Over the weekend, leading gambling charity GambleAware published its first report tracking how 566 individuals used the facilities of the National Gambling Treatment Service (NGTA) across Scotland and Wales.
The data was collected by healthcare research consultancy ViewitUKAccording to the report, around 90% of all 295 gamblers who accessed the facilities in Scotland have seen an increase in their Problem Gambling Severity Index score, the scale used to measure the condition of someone’s gambling problem.
What’s more, the study found that 54% of those who accessed treatment were no longer considered to be problem gamblers, while the remaining 46% requiring only one more round of treatment to no longer be classified as problem gamblers. Finally, around 66% of all Scottish participants recorded an improved CORE-10 score, a mental health assessment that is used to measure someone’s psychological distress.
In Wales, 94% of all 271 gamblers who accessed NGTA facilities and received treatment reported an improved Problem Gambling Severity Index score. In addition, around 57% of those who accessed NGTA facilities are no longer classed as problem gamblers, while 87% of all individuals noted an improved CORE-10 score.
Finally, the report revealed that Scottish individuals were spending an average of £1,558 on gambling in the months prior to commencing treatment, while Welsh individuals were spending around £1,330 per month.
Dr Jane Rigbye, the Interim Director of Commissioning at GambleAware, said in a statement to CasinoBeats: “The publication of this report demonstrates our commitment to develop treatment for those experiencing gambling harms in Scotland.
“It was highlighted a need to improve awareness and take-up of treatment services and to follow up protocols with gamblers who drop out of treatment, to understand their motivations and ensure [the] provision of the services they require.”
She continued: “We are dedicated to pursuing greater collaboration with Health and Social Care Partnership Boards, NHS Scotland and voluntary sector agencies to address gambling harms.
“As a commissioning body, GambleAware is working hard to ensure that there is better awareness of gambling harms, and of the help that is available, so that people across Scotland can access the help and treatment that they need to prevent gambling harms.”
Lisa-Marie Patton, the Team Leader at GamCare Scotland, added: “The results from this report illustrate how treatment can make a real difference to people’s lives, which is why we are working to ensure that it is available to the greatest number possible. Better links with health and social care services will help us connect more people with the treatment that they need for gambling harms.”