Scottish betting shops have been given the green light to reopen on 29 June, but will only offer a transactional service.
Under the government’s next phase for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, the Scottish government will prevent betting shops from showing live races, while there will also be a ban on seating within the shops to discourage people from gathering.
In a letter published by the Racing Post, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes wrote to the Betting and Gaming Council Chief Executive Michael Dugher explaining that fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will also be switched off.
Forbes wrote: “With regards to your query of when your members will be permitted to reopen, it is anticipated that betting shops will be able to reopen in Phase 2 for the purpose of placing bets only, with no chairs and no televisions showing live races. This aims to avoid clusters of people gathering to watch live sport.
“Gambling machines should also be switched off to avoid spread through surface transmission. Confirmation will be issued in due course as to when the rest of the adult gaming industry may reopen.”
GVC said in a statement: “We are disappointed that we’ve had no clear advice or guidance on re-opening our Scottish shops. This is inconsistent with our English estate which is open for business and operating strict social-distancing measures to protect our colleagues and our customers. We will continue to seek clarification from the Scottish Government on this issue.”
Betting shops in England were permitted to reopen their doors on Monday 15 June, providing they are operating in accordance with the government guidelines on social distancing and protective measures such as ‘sneeze screens’ and enhanced cleaning procedures.
Meanwhile betting shops in Ireland have been forced to remain closed until 29 June following widespread confusion over the government’s messaging on non-essential retail.
It was reported that 800 Irish betting shops reopened their businesses on 15 June, believing to have complied with the Irish government’s ‘phase two’ Coronavirus national plan. However, within 24 hours Irish betting firms were instructed to close their doors as the government stated that betting shops were not included in the statutory arrangement to reopen non-essential Irish retail businesses.