Betting shops should reopen too, says Blair

The Economy and Communities Ministers should push for betting shops to reopen now other non-essential retailers have opened their doors, Alliance MLA John Blair has said.

Mr Blair said betting shops were no different than other retailers which have opened their doors over the past few days, with an added advantage of avoiding the potential pitfalls of online gambling for many.

“Under the Coronavirus Regulations, betting shops have remained closed and rightly so. However, as other non-essential retail outlets have reopened in the same shopping areas, we are now seeing an anomaly of betting shops remaining closed,” he said.

“Betting shops already have an advantage of staff being behind screens and with some added adjustments to ensure social distancing, most will not see any more physical contact than other retailers.

“The Premier League is due to kick off this week and other sports have either resumed or will be doing so soon. Many people will be inclined to place bets on these events and in the absence of betting shops to visit, may use online gambling facilities instead. As there is not as much regulation of online gambling, those with addiction problems may face greater dangers.

“Reopening betting shops will give the economy a boost while allowing people to get back to a legitimate everyday activity, and I hope the Economy and Communities Ministers will push for that to happen as soon as possible.”