Betting outlets in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, reopened on Saturday 27 June. This comes as lockdown measures ease, while infection rates keep climbing.
As the world continues to resume activities following the easing of lockdown measures, betting facilities in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have reopened.
On Friday the 26th of June, the KZN Gaming and Betting Board released a press statement to that effect. The Board said bookmakers and totalizer shops would be allowed to reopen from Saturday the 27th of June, as long as they obeyed a few specific provisos.
Reopening was Anticipated
The regulations that sportsbooks need to follow include making sure that people only fill up 50% of the floor space within the venue at any given time, and that the prescribed COVID-19 Health, Safety and Occupational Health guidelines are followed. This should ensure adequate social distancing, which is intended to reduce the risk of transmission. At this stage, racecourses are still closed to the public as well as anyone else who is not essential to the running of a specific race meeting.
In the days before KZN’s Gaming and Betting Board made its official announcement, insiders were already speculating that the restrictions on sports betting facilities would soon be lifted. As the Department of Cooperative Governance confirmed, bookmaking was not listed in the Government Gazette regulations on specific economic enterprises to be excluded under Alert Level 3. This led many to believe that they would be allowed to open their doors in the relatively near future.
Rest of SA Could Follow KZN
The Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board is expected to shortly issue a directive of its own concerning land-based bookmakers. However, Hollywoodbets manager Dermot O’ Connell reported to the Sporting Post that his company was studying the specifics on National Regulations for mandatory requirements, in order to prepare themselves. If they open soon, Hollywoodbets will be fully ready to comply with screening, social distancing, and other protocols.
O’Connell added that Hollywoodbets is already fulfilling all logistical requirements, including ensuring that social distancing measures can be maintained between all staff and customers, and concluded that the sportsbook was hoping to issue a statement to their customers very soon.
The news on the reopening of the KZN sports betting scene comes days after cinemas in the country were allowed to reopen, and after several people commented that casinos might soon follow suit.
Stock prices in local hospitality indices spiked at the news, even without a formal timeline in place, showing how important gambling venues are to the South African economy. While proper precautions are essential, some argue that continued lockdown is simply not financially viable. As cases of COVID-19 continue to climb, the issue is hotly debated around the nation.
Dealing with the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus has never been easy – and in some ways it seems to be getting more difficult.