Government accused of 'attacking Northern working class culture' by closing bingo halls and betting shops

The Leader of Sheffield Council has criticised the Government for closing betting shops and bingo halls and accused them of attacking Northern working class culture.

Leader of Sheffield Council Councillor Julie Dore
Leader of Sheffield Council Councillor Julie Dore

Betting shops, casinos and bingo halls will all have to close as part of the new Tier 3 restrictions which are coming into force across South Yorkshire on Saturday (Oct 24).

Coun Leader Julie Dore said the venues were not high risk while the Betting and Gaming Council said 1,300 employees across the region will be affected.

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Coun Dore said: “These are a Northern working class culture – I have had to explain to ministers what goes on in betting shops.

“I can go to a pub serving lunch with my family and sit for a couple of hours but you can’t go to a bingo session or nip into a bookies to place a bet.

“It’s unfair. We have to stop the spread of the virus but it’s balancing that with people’s mental and physical health and the economy. A weekly visit to the bingo hall might be the only social contact some people get.”

The Betting and Gaming Council said the restrictions were “hugely disappointing”.

A spokesman said: “Betting shops and casinos in South Yorkshire – which employ 1,300 people between them – are being forced to close their doors despite a lack of evidence that they contribute to the spread of Covid-19.

“The region’s 200 betting shops pay £24m a year in tax, plus £6m in levy and media rights payments to horseracing, a sport which is already struggling financially due to the ban on spectators.

“Meanwhile, South Yorkshire’s three casinos pay £11.2m to the Treasury every year and, along with those in the rest of the country, have demonstrated to public health officials that they are Covid-secure.

“If the Government does not re-think its decision to order the closure of these venues, it must come up with the necessary economic package to ensure their long-term future.”

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