Ireland has ordered retail bookmakers to shut their doors just 24 hours after they reopened following their prolonged COVID-19 closure. GVC Holdings’ Ladbrokes brand and Flutter Entertainment’s Paddy Power brand announced on Tuesday that they were shutting their betting shops in the Republic of Ireland. On Monday, following what the two companies thought was a ‘good to go’ signal from local authorities, they opened their shops.
To reduce additional COVID-19 transmission, all Irish betting shops were closed in mid-March. The Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) announced in late May that its members’ shops could reopen on June 29 following the flattening of Ireland’s infection curve. Though most major bookies did not reopen until this Monday (15), this launch date was subsequently advanced to June 8. Paddy Power issued a statement to RTÉ saying it had reopened its shops on Monday and pressurized to close its doors once again after they became aware of a government specification that bookies should open on June 29.
To mark the start of the Royal Ascot race meeting in England, other bookies, including BoyleSports, remained open on Tuesday, while Ladbrokes closed its shops. Sharon Byrne, IBA chair, stated that most of the group’s members, who operate 755 of the nation’s 814 shops, had agreed that they would not reopen on Wednesday. According to the IBA, it was looking for government clarity on why the organization was only informed on Monday that its understanding of the June 8 launch signal was inconsistent.
Guardians’ Association (NITGA) members do not know when their 300 betting shops might reopen. Most of Northern Ireland’s non-essential retailers were authorized by the government to restart operations last Thursday. However, betting shops, together with restaurants, bars, cinemas, casinos, bingo halls, and gyms were among the exceptions to this order. NITGA spokesperson stated that the government’s delay in clarifying the situation is forcing operators to keep around 1,000 staff on furlough and bookies had taken on extra expenses to ensure that proper social distancing requirements were being observed when they did reopen.