Relaxation of Covid-19 Social Distancing Rules Welcomed by BGC

Monday 5 July saw Prime Minister Boris Johnson make a statement on the social distancing restrictions that we’ve been living under over the past year. Most Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted despite the fact that the number of infections is increasing. How will the changes affect the gambling industry?

The news is that those going to casinos and betting shops won’t have to practice social distancing. Nor will it be compulsory to wear facemasks. The decision has been met with approval by Michael Dugher who is the Chief Executive of the British Gambling Council (BGC).

Speaking about the lifting of restrictions, he said: “We strongly welcome the Government’s intention to remove the remaining Covid restrictions on July 19, which will provide a much-needed boost to the economy.”

He added that the decision is “particularly good news” for casinos after “many months of closure and crippling restrictions.” It’ll be good news for the government too. A study by Ernst and Young found that UK casinos directly employ 11,600 people and pre-pandemic contributed £500 million a year in tax.

Casinos have spent millions of pounds in making their venues as safe as possible for customers. Despite that they have faced periods of closures and other restrictions. The BGC CEO believes that the changes that have been announced are to be welcomed but there is still work to be done.

He has called for travel restrictions to also be eased. The more tourists around, the better as casinos look to improve their financial positions. Just in London, casinos contribute £120 million to the amount earned from tourism. An increase in the number of foreign tourists will be a major boost for casinos.

It’s not just casinos and bookmakers that he believes will benefit from the relaxing of restrictions. Sporting events have either been played behind closed doors or with reduced capacities. That has seen the finances of sporting teams being seriously affected, especially race tracks.

Mr Dugher said of the move to go back to full capacities: “This is great news for the much-loved sports that the regulated betting industry helps sustain: from racing, football, rugby league, snooker and darts. The absence of crowds has been a bitter blow and I can’t wait to see venues safely operating at full capacity once again.”

His statement isn’t a perfect one though, is it? The rates of infection are already going up and the relaxation of social distancing rules will only cause them to increase further. How many gamblers will catch Covid in the coming weeks and months and how many will die?