Economic damage will be huge as Lancashire betting shops and casinos close

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) believes the economic damage caused by the closures of casinos and betting shops in Lancashire “will be huge.”

The English county was added to tier three of COVID-19 restrictions by the UK government, with the strictest level of restrictions coming into place last Saturday.

Measures include the banning of different households mixing indoors and the closures of pubs and bars, while casinos, bingo halls and betting shops have been ordered to close from Monday 19 October.

The move, which affects the likes of Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, Lancaster and Preston, will see around 200 of the regions betting shops and three casinos close indefinitely, putting 1,100 jobs at risk.

The news comes a week after casinos and betting shops in Merseyside shut from 14 October, after the Liverpool City Region was placed into tier three, impacting a further 350 betting shops and six casinos.

However, gyms and leisure centres remain open in Lancashire, leading to BGC CEO Michael Dugher questioning the move, citing a lack of evidence that bookmakers and casinos have contributed to the spread of the virus.

Dugher said: “From the beginning of the pandemic, betting shops and casinos have played their full role in the national effort to tackle this virus.

“It is therefore hugely disappointing that as they are starting to get back on their feet again, those venues in Merseyside and Lancashire have had the rug pulled from under them.

“And given the inconsistencies between the approaches in Liverpool and Lancashire when it comes to gyms and leisure centres, it gives the impression that the people who make these decisions don’t care about jobs in betting shops and casinos.

“We hope that those making the decisions will come up with the necessary financial package to ensure these betting shops and casinos have a long-term future.”