Roughly 6,000 UK High Street Betting Shops Reopen, Industry Celebrates Return

Posted on: April 13, 2021, 12:03h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 01:13h.

Around 6,000 high street betting shops across the United Kingdom have finally reopened.

high street UK betting shops
Pedestrians returned this week to UK high streets. Betting shops also reopened, but under COVID-19 safety protocols. (Image: Greatest Hits Radio)

For the first time since December, bookmakers can open their doors. That’s after the UK government eased COVID-19 restrictions on the gaming industry. Effective April 12, bookies can once again welcome in-person patrons to their high street businesses.

Along with betting shops, the UK’s rollback on coronavirus shutdowns allows outdoor dining, pub gardens, hairdressers, and retail shops to resume operations.

“It’s great news that high street betting shops in England and Wales are finally able to reopen safely, along with the rest of non-essential retail,” said Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

It’s been a long three months for betting shop staff, as well as their customers, and I know they are all looking forward to safely getting back to business,” Dugher added. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s order on casinos remaining shuttered runs through at least May 17. 

Betting Shop Restrictions

High street betting resumed this week, but gamblers are finding a slightly different experience than pre-pandemic. Bookmaker businesses cannot offer any seating or tables, televisions displaying sporting events must remain off, and customers can only be in the shop for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Betting shops must practice social distancing, offer hand sanitizer, and install plexiglass barriers between the ticket window cashier and customer. Customers are additionally limited to two visits to a betting shop per day, and the businesses will close early at 8 pm nightly. The number of guests permitted indoors at a single time is capped at eight people, excluding employees.  

Despite the ongoing health safety measures, the BGC says it’s a major step in the right direction. 

“As well as providing a much-needed boost for the millions of people who enjoy a flutter (bet), they will also be able to play a key role in the UK’s post-COVID economic recovery,” Dugher added. 

UK betting shops support some 46,000 jobs and generated tax revenue of nearly £1 billion (US$1.37 billion) last year. Betting shops are also critical to the horseracing industry by way of sponsorships, media rights, and betting revenue sharing.

COVID-19 Conditions Improving

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the decision to allow nonessential businesses such as betting shops to reopen was based on coronavirus assessments. 

The UK government explained that the vaccine deployment program continues to be successful, and evidence shows that the vaccines are “sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths in those vaccinated.” 

New cases in the UK have been gradually declining since spiking in December and January. The rate of weekly cases per 100,000 people has dropped from 474 infections in early January to less than 28 this week.

However, the UK reported yesterday its highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases since April 1. Health officials say 3,568 people across Britain tested positive on April 11. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, the UK has reported 4.37 million COVID-19 cases, with the disease cited for 127,000 deaths.