A day after being allowed to reopen in England, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes were dealt a huge blow when their betting shops were forced to close in Ireland.
Although an official reason has yet been given by authorities, the belief is that the closures are down to the classification of the two businesses – non-essential retailers have been allowed to open but hospitality firms have not, and the assumption is that the two bookies are classed as Public Limited Companies in the hospitality industry.
However, the plot thickens as BoyleSports and a number of independent Irish firms have been allowed to stay open.
According to reports, the closures were initiated after a number of complaints were received from members of the public regarding the betting firms’ status in Ireland.
It’s a cruel blow for Paddy Power and Ladbrokes, particularly with Royal Ascot taking place this week and the return of the English Premier League on Wednesday. Early suggestions show that footfall in betting shops in Ireland has been slow since the lifting of restrictions too, with turnover down as much as 70% on a ordinary day’s trading according to reports.
Betting Shops Reopen Their Doors in England
However, the picture was said to be brighter in England, with Ladbrokes and a number of other firms reporting on an ‘encouraging’ resumption of trading.
High street betting shops opened their doors for the first time since March on Monday following Boris Johnson’s decision to let non-essential retail outlets get back to business.
Even new safety measures designed to preserve social distancing guidelines and the welfare of customers don’t appear to have had a negative effect on punters. GVC Holdings’ spokesperson Simon Clare said:
“It’s early days but we have already had some really encouraging feedback from our shop teams, indicating that the new procedures and measures are working well in practice, and we are seeing plenty of our regular customers returning.
“Our shop teams are reporting that our customers are doing their bit, adhering to the social distancing measures and, where necessary, queueing outside the shop.
“It has been helpful to have today to get used to the new measures and processes, because with Royal Ascot starting tomorrow and then Premier League football back from Wednesday, our shops are going to see increased footfall as the week progresses.”
Just some of the measures that betting shops have implemented include a maximum number of customers inside, with a queuing system outside of the shop, Perspex screens have been implemented to protect shop staff, and the same screens have been put up between FOBTs and betting terminals to prevent customers from getting too close to one another.
Social distancing is advertised with sticker systems and one-way movement around the shop floor, and pens are to be provided for use with the betting terminal screens – although these are to be disposed off after one use. Hand sanitiser stations have also been put in place.