News Gambling premises open with Gambling Commission Guidance

Betting shops open, arcades still closed, bingo and casino opening in July

“The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Restrictions (England) (Amendment) (No.4) Regulations 2020 SI588, published on Friday 12th June 2020, have allowed betting shops to open today.

However, they did not allow arcades to reopen as had been expected.

The Government has previously published Guidance stating that arcades would be reopening today, along with other non-essential retail.  However, at the last minute it appears there was a critical reversal by Number 10, which we understand relates to a concern that customers will dwell on the gaming machines in the arcades, although it remains unclear why betting shops have been treated differently and allowed to reopen.

The turnabout by the Government has created significant issues for arcade operators, with staff unfurloughed, shops prepared for opening, and operators having arranged for cash on the premises which will now have to be removed.  It is anticipated that arcades will now reopen with bingo halls and casinos in July, with the Government target date of 4th July.  One take away for operators yet to reopen is that the Government’s decision making process during COVID times is erratic, presenting real practical difficulties for planning reopening. 

The Regulations permitting betting shops to reopen can be found here:

As the betting shops opened their doors the Gambling Commission published their guidance on land based gambling businesses reopening. This includes advice on age verification and self-exclusion – customers can be required to remove their masks to ensure they are over 18 or to identify those who excluded – and on risks assessments.

Of note, on Commission assessments of gambling premises, the Commission will look to obtain premises information by remote means. This includes requesting electronic data or recordings and where possible/necessary undertaking Skype meetings. 

The guidance is essential reading for those betting shops that are open and arcades, bingo halls and casino planning on opening, sometime in July. The full FAQ can be found here."