In a move that seemed inevitable, the UK Government is ordering all casinos and betting shops to shut down for an for at least two weeks in an effort to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus. It’s a move that’s absolutely necessary, but could prove absolutely devastating to gambling operators with a wide exposure to the lucrative UK market.

In his announcement, which also included the shuttering of nightclubs and other leisure sites, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now and that means we have to take the next steps on scientific advice…We need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us”

Johnson’s move was hardly unexpected as social distancing has become the new norm across the planet as every country struggles to keep the COVID-19 virus at bay as much as possible. Some casino and betting shop operators, including Flutter Entertainment, which operates 350 shops via its Paddy Power brand, had already done their duty and shut down anyways. Flutter is to be commended for voluntarily making this sacrifice in full knowledge of the impact it’s going to have on the company’s bottom line.

Other operators, such as Ladbrokes Coral, welcomed the clarity of the order and are complying. In a press release, a company spokesperson said, “It is very welcome to now have clarity and reassurance from the Government on this serious matter, as the safety and well-being of our colleagues and customers is of paramount importance.”

While the initial order is for a two-week shutdown, it’s extremely likely that the closure will last much longer.


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