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Betting companies seek clarity from the government about reopening dates

Many bookies believed they were permitted to reopen last week.

Image: LEAH FARRELL

SPORTS BETTING COMPANIES are seeking further clarification from the government about the circumstances that led to over 800 betting shops being told to close this week.

A spokesperson for Ladbrokes owner GVC Holdings said, “I can confirm that we are not opening our Ladbrokes shops in the Republic of Ireland at this moment whilst we seek clarity from the Government on the recently updated guidance.” 

Many betting shop owners across the country were under the impression that they were allowed to lift the shutters on 8 June following the announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday, 5 June that all retailers could reopen under Phase Two of the government’s roadmap.

While many smaller shops did reopen on 8 June, bigger operators like Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Boylesports decided to wait until this week.

But all betting shops have been forced to close again this week after being made aware of a statutory instrument that prohibited them from reopening until 29 June, as originally planned.

The instrument lists “licensed betting shops” under the heading “retail outlets not permitted” to open along with art galleries, ice skating rinks and indoor leisure facilities, including bowling alleys and amusement arcades.

Notice of that statutory instrument was published in Iris Oifigiúil, the State’s official gazette, on Tuesday, 9 June, one day after restrictions were lifted under Phase Two. Iris Oifigiúil is published every Tuesday and Friday.

In response to a query, the Department of Health said that the statutory instrument was published on its website on 8 June.

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Boylesports told TheJournal.ie, ”All Irish bookmakers, including BoyleSports, reopened their shops last Monday morning on the clear understanding that was the appropriate reopening date.

“It was then suggested that bookmakers were not, in fact, covered by the Government direction that all retail should reopen.

“BoyleSports, like other bookmakers, sought urgent clarification. Once that clarification was received we closed our entire estate. We expect to reopen in the coming weeks in line with Government guidance.”

On Tuesday, Paddy Power said it “took the decision to close” all of its shops once it “became aware of a Government specification that bookies should open on 29 June”.

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