The UK government has announced that all ‘non essential’ shops in England will be allowed to open from June 15 onwards.
The move is ‘contingent’ on certain measures, and there will have to be distancing measures retained in order to retailers to open their doors for the first time since March.
That, presumably, will include betting shops, who will be able to open their doors from mid-June in time for the resumption of football and horse racing – as proposed, anyway.
However, that is dependant on the government confirming that betting shops fall under the remit of ‘non essential’ – if, instead, they are classed as being part of the hospitality industry then the wait is likely to continue for them to resume their operations.
The hope is that thousands of betting shops up and down the land will be open in time for Royal Ascot, which is scheduled to kick off on June 15 for five days of action behind closed doors.
GVC Holdings, who operate the 3,000 plus Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops in England, has confirmed that they are ‘well prepared’ to open on June 15, and that they would be ready to welcome punters hungry for a flutter on Royal Ascot and perhaps even the Premier League, which is expected to resume at some point later in the month.
William Hill, which owns around 2,300 properties in England, has confirmed they will be opting for a staged reopening of shops, with those in the busiest areas likely to get the nod first.
Latest Shop Reopening Dates
|From 15th June 2020||Still to confirm|
Racing to Enjoy Much-Needed Boost
The best case scenario that had previously laid out was a July 4 return for bookies’ shops, which would have fallen under the third phase of the government’s roadmap for lifting restrictions.
However, Boris Johnson – under pressure to appease the public following the Dominic Cummings scandal – has decided to bring forward the reopening of non essential shops.
That would be a huge boost for the sport, which benefits financially from the betting levy fund to the tune of £5 million in a ‘normal’ year, with around 50% of that coming from high street betting firms – without on-course bookies in operation, that percentage would increase exponentially with horse racing still commanding considerable ‘cash’ revenue at the bookies as well as online.
It is estimated that the suspension of racing has cost the industry a staggering £8 million per month – so a loss of around £20 million in total is likely prior to the June resumption – in betting revenue, while the millions that bookies donate to the sport in media rights payments to live stream races has also dried up.
Behind closed doors racing is set to return on Monday June 1, with the BHA’s chief executive officer Brant Dunshea claiming he is ‘incredibly confident’ that the government will give the sport the green light to resume.
“We cannot control the government’s decision making, but we’ve been working continuously to make sure we’re in a strong position,” he said. “We’re very excited and positive we’ll be ready to go from June 1.”