UK Casinos Freedom Day

Are you a UK casino player? Let us know how you feel! UK freedom day will see casinos, betting shops, and arcades reopen at last. (Photo by Kristina V on Unsplash)

The long-awaited July 19th finally came to the UK land-based gambling industry. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has stayed strong with his plans to lift most of the remaining legal restrictions that have been in place for the past several months. However, there are still some remaining factors that betting shops, casinos and arcades have to consider when it comes to the concern of safety for both customers and staff.

On this day, there are far more ‘cans’ than ‘can nots’ when it comes to what establishments are allowed to do – much to the delight of the customer faithful.

So, let’s first have a look at what can return to normal (how we once knew it)…

Live sport will be allowed to be shown throughout any betting shop in England. So long as the operator of the establishment has the required licensing and safe equipment, then there will be no rules against showing any TV events.

During the time when the country was restricted, many people feared that even with July 19th coming, there would be some restrictions as to the amount of people allowed in an establishment. However, all venues are now allowed to open with no legal requirements with regards to capacity. Again, there should be sufficient risk assessment work prior to opening to allow for a safe number of people within one place, but nothing to do with covid or social distancing measures. Customers are free to behave how they wish with regards to social distancing. So, if a customer wants to enforce their own social distancing precautions (by not standing close to others), then that is their own choice. Similarly, an operator is well within their rights to reduce the capacity in order to slow down the spread of the virus; they could implement other measures at their own expense, like barriers or screens, and even ask that staff and customers wear protective face coverings.

Customers will be free to spend as much time in an establishment as they wish, providing they are not causing any offence. The Responsible Gambling action will still be in force as and when required. The action makes it possible to limit a player’s time in a place, but that is through choice, and not covid-19 related.

Seating facilities will resume to how we all remember. Tables will be back and with enough chairs to accommodate most customers. The usual risk assessment will have to be managed, but an operator is free to place (safely) as many tables and chairs as appropriate. Again, they are free to implement their own rules with these, so if they wish for a reduced number than before, it is the operators choice.

The government still encourages as much contactless payment as possible when it comes to making transactions. But from July 19th, it is down to an operator how they wish to proceed with this. If they want to start having cash payments again, then they can. The government has asked for customers to keep the number of transactions as low as possible to help slow the spread of the virus. Customers of betting shops and casinos should also note that gaming machines are still under legal protection and card payment is not possible on these machines.

Now for the things that an operator should do

Firstly, there is a guidance that the Government published for the benefit of working safely past the July 19th lift on restrictions. The Government has made it very clear that failing to conduct and implement a risk assessment that is deemed sufficient, will result in the operator being guilty of breaking health and safety laws. Local authorities have warned that a public health restriction could be put on a business in cases of a particularly serious nature, whereby the authority identify, and deem a situation, threatening to the safety of the public.

High street arcades and Bookmakers throughout the country have been strongly encouraged by the government to continue displaying the NHS QR-code tool for the purpose of track and trace of the Covid-19 virus. This is just a recommendation and not a law.

Final Things to Note

By the beginning of August, the Government should have already published a new management framework for the outbreak of Covid-19. By September, the Government will analyse the situation again and assess how prepared the country is for the colder months of Autumn and, in particular, Winter. They will consider if it is necessary to strengthen related guides. All things considered, there are no restrictions against individuals and only recommendations for businesses. The only requirement for a business is the risk assessment that goes on in every business. Individuals are asked to respect the wishes of individual operators. It could be the very beginning of things going back to the happy days of pre-covid.

Some people are still sceptical about venturing out due to the latest delta variant of the coronavirus yet the mass opening of land-based venues is expected to take a slight hit on UK online casinos. However, and declines on traffic have already begun slowly since the UK has been coming out of lockdown for around 2 months now.