Scotland is Not So Flexible, Learns the BGC

Lee R. - August 2, 2020

What is really going on in Scotland, and which post-Covid policy will win?


The Scotland government was lauded by the Betting Gaming Council for adaptability in reversing recent anti-Covid measures that appeared far too rigid for the UK, but an apparent about face is stirring the pot again.

The Initial Controversy

The controversy stems from the Scottish Government's concession to lift post-Covid restrictions they had initially placed on the jurisdiction's betting shops since reopening on 29 June.


The restrictions that BGC sent so far as to call “Draconian” included the removal of chairs from betting shops along with bans on showing live racing on TV and the use of gaming machines.

The Pacifying Reversal Reversed

To the BGC's delight, the Scottish government agreed to lift the restrictions on July 22. Now in what BGC calls an “apparent U-turn,” the Scottish Government has ordered betting shops to shut down their gaming machines once again.

The Bottom Line

Whatever the optics, it adds to up to a 95% drop for some betting shops.

The Formal Explanation

The BGC explained the decision in a letter to a chagrined BGC CEO Michael Dugher as a desire to “have a consistent approach regarding the use of gaming machines while always keeping people safe.”

BGC Chairman Reacts

BGC chairman Brigid Simmonds expressed her organisation's “extreme disappointment” in the decision, “which directly contradicts what they told us previously.”

Calling For Another Reversal

In a perfect rinse repeat cycle, Simmonds urged ministers in Scotland to once again “reconsider this baffling decision and revert to the position they had less than a week ago.”


There are certainly some added forces at work inside Scotland's decision-making process. A see-saw battle on restrictions would not be a first occurrence in this Covid-centric world, where some countries see opening policies and permits changed daily as a result of Covid.


However, this rebellion against the greater trade body representing the British jurisdiction reminds of the new element of coronapoliticshat goes into legislation of most things today, and in this case has crept up into the gambling arena as well. How this plays out looks like something to watch, with more unpredictable and telling developments. 

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