Wales Casinos and Betting Stores to Close as Country Imposes Heavy COVID-19 Restrictions

Latest batch of restrictions

Wales is the latest UK region to announce heavier COVID-19 restrictions in recent days, meaning that casinos and betting stores will have to close.

A lockdown announcement on Monday outlined the new Welsh restrictions going into effect on Friday, which will see the 366 betting stores in the nation close, as well as all casinos. This “time-limited firebreak” will be in place until November 9, according to the First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford.

owners and spectators will not be able to attend any horse races

Professional sports, including horse racing, will continue, but owners and spectators will not be able to attend any horse races. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is calling for “immediate financial support” for the racing industry, saying it is in a “perilous financial situation.”

Reaction to the closures

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is urging the authorities to allow betting stores and casinos across the UK to remain open, releasing a statement on Twitter:

The industry association also criticized the decision to close casinos and betting stores in Lancashire from October 17. About 1,100 people work at the three casinos and almost 200 betting stores in the area. The venues contribute about £30.6m ($39.7m) in tax each year, with the latter also sending £6.6m ($8.6m) to the horse racing industry annually through media rights and levy payments.

In the Liverpool City region, heavy restrictions are now in place, resulting in the closure of 350 betting stores and six casinos that employ about 2,300 people combined.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher spoke about how betting stores and casinos have been working hard to help tackle the virus since the pandemic began. He said: “It is therefore hugely disappointing that as they are starting to get back on their feet again, those venues in Merseyside and Lancashire have had the rug pulled from under them.”

An uncertain future

With the winter setting in and positive virus cases on the rise, casinos and betting stores have an uncertain future. There is the possibility that other regions in the UK could also follow suit and implement similar measures to Wales, Lancashire, and Liverpool. Casinos in the central belt of Scotland are already closed for 16 days, ending October 25.

Dugher hopes that the relevant authorities will decide upon a necessary financial package that will ensure that casinos and betting stores have a long-term future.

Wage cuts and job losses already appear to be on the way for those in the sector due to the widespread uncertainty. Betfred sent a letter to its workers in Liverpool last week explaining that employees across its 81 betting stores in the region will be furloughed until October 31. Their wages are then set to be cut by 20% in November if they remain out of work.

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