Any bookmaker opening their doors to the public on Wednesday will be doing so illegally after the Irish government made clear its decision that retail outlets are to remain closed until June 29.
Most shops had reopened on Monday, although some had tested the water from the previous Monday, while others have yet to start trading again.
The Irish Bookmakers Association [IBA] had advised its members that they would be permitted to reopen along with other retail outlets and confusion reigned on Tuesday as firms scrambled to establish what was after happening and whether or not they were permitted to trade.
Major operators Paddy Power and Ladbrokes closed their outlets on Tuesday, just 24 hours after reopening, once details of a statutory instrument published last Tuesday came to light.
Many firms were caught off guard by the development and an emergency meeting was called on Tuesday evening where, according to IBA chairperson Sharon Byrne, most members agreed not to open on Wednesday.
A small percentage of bookmakers are understood to be planning on remaining open, which goes against the advice of the IBA.
Byrne revealed: “We had an emergency meeting at four o'clock on Tuesday and it went very well. The majority of members on the call agreed absolutely, as the legislation currently stands, it is illegal to open and they won't be opening their shops on Wednesday.”
She added: “The few that weren't in full agreement are going to consider it. But the position from the IBA is clear and the recommendation is that the law stands. Unfortunately, as from the middle to the end of last week, it is now illegal to open betting shops until June 29.”
There are 814 betting shops in Ireland, most of which have been closed since March 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Tuesday's news will come as a hammer blow to an industry which was already under severe pressure. It will also impact the level of media rights money that beleaguered racecourses receive.
**** and many other independent firms remained open on Tuesday, despite Paddy Power and Ladbrokes pulling down the shutters. Nobody from **** was available for comment while Barney O’Hare, owner of Bar One’s chain of betting shops, of which there are 56, described himself as “shocked” Paddy Power and Ladbrokes closing initially. O’Hare was unavailable for comment after the emergency meeting.
Naomi Totten, communications manager for Flutter, parent company of Paddy Power, explained that the firm only became aware of the fact that it was illegal to open on Monday, and that shops will remain closed until June 29 until instructed otherwise.
She explained: "Paddy Power shops opened on Monday in line with other bookies in Ireland, following the government guidelines on re-opening of retail outlets. All our shops have detailed operational protocols in place in all shops to ensure that social distancing and other public health requirements are met in full in the interests of colleagues and customers."
She added: "On Monday we became aware of a government specification that bookies should open on June 29. Hence, we took the decision to close our shops from this morning until we have the green light to go ahead.”
Any bookmaker opening their doors to the public on Wednesday will be doing so illegally after the Irish government made clear its decision that retail outlets are to remain closed until June 29. Most shops had reopened on Monday, although some had te