Great news came to light this weekend; After a long hiatus, betting shops across Ireland are planning to re-open by by the end of June. In a recent report by The Racing Post, they discovered that there have been multiple meetings between large betting operators and those independent ones on a roadmap out of the COVID-19 pandemic to get the industry back up and running.
When is the grand re-opening?
Initially operators were aiming for the government’s “phase 2 of starting up the economy” which is expected on June 8th as an option to re-open stores nationwide but following discussion with all parties including racing broadcaster SIS it was decided that the best option was to use “phase 3” of the government’s lockdown reopening plan, which is scheduled for the end of June
In spite of good news, Irish bookmakers warn that it is a long road back and expect best case scenario that business will be severely impeded and down some 50% in revenue prior to the government’s lockdown.
The government in Ireland is expected to announce that 8th June some retail outlets with street-level access will be allowed to re-open, however so far the number of customers allowed is not clear and so is the same for bookmakers who know there will be limits set for the amount of customers entering the bookmakers premises.
The Irish Bookmakers Association's Say...
Sharon Byrne, chairperson of the IBA said on the plan, “The top priority for our members is the health of their colleagues and customers,” Byrne explained. “Our members are working to ensure robust safety protocols and procedures are in place to adequately protect staff and customers.
“Social distancing will probably be the most challenging issue and all our members will adhere to the detailed guidelines given to them by the IBA and by government.
“We have developed comprehensive procedures to guide our members in preparing their shops for re-opening. We will also have an online training portal for retail staff, which is guided by the government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol.”
Government support remains on hand for what is forecast to be a long and bumpy re-introduction, with many factors interrupting industry business as usual. Irish bookmakers account for 6,000 staff and last year brought in some €85 million in taxes for the government.