Retail betting outlets will be able to reopen in the UK from 15th June, the country’s government has said. 

Their return to business forms the next stage of the UK’s easing of the lockdown, which has lasted for over two months so far. 

Operators’ doors have, like many other high street stores, been shut since 20th March to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Land-based bookmakers had initially expected to reopen from 4th July, but this date has been moved forward. 

Back in time for Royal Ascot and (possibly) the Premier League 

Should bookmakers reopen on 15th June as expected, they could be set for a welcome cash boost with Royal Ascot scheduled to start the following day. 

The Premier League, which has been discussing ‘Project Restart’ for a while, could also return on 26th June. An announcement on this is expected to be made at some stage this week, with clubs already agreeing to resume contact training. 

A spokesperson from the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) spoke to iGaming Business about the reopening of retail betting shops and said the following.

“With racing returning soon, we welcome the fact that betting shops across the country will be able to open their doors again on 15 June.

“Our members are working hard to prepare shops for reopening and to ensure a safe environment for customers with social distancing and hygiene measures in place. 

“Bookies employ nearly 50,000 hard-working staff, who have all played their part in the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, and we now look forward to providing customers with the best possible experience as lockdown eases.”

Steps must be taken to ensure safety 

Before businesses are allowed to welcome customers again, a risk assessment must be completed to show that they are “COVID-19-secure”. In this, they need to show that they are confident they can manage related potential problems. 

All stores will be encouraged to consider social distancing restrictions, clean their premises on a regular basis and put protective coverings on items touched by the public. 

If shops reopen and breach the rules, fines could be imposed – while management staff who violate measures could face up to two years in prison. 

Business Secretary Alok Sharma discussed the reopening of non-essential businesses in the UK and had the below to say. 

“The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country. Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK. 

“The guidance we have set out today provides a vital framework to get shops open in a way that is safe for everyone. It explains how retail workers who are not currently working can go back to work as safely as possible and feel confident in their workplace. And it reassures customers that shops are properly assessing the risks and putting in place measures to protect them.”