The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) warns of thousands of jobs losses in the UK’s casino sector should a 10 pm curfew be implemented.
UK ministers have been considering the implementation of a curfew, placing pubs and various establishments under an early closure order. These venues responded to this by vowing to implement additional measures and extra steps to prevent more closures.
Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, commented on this recent development saying that the BGC supports the need to act swiftly to protect public health and safety and that it appreciated the government for supporting UK casinos so far. However, he stated that despite the government’s good intentions, an implemented curfew would only lead to a negligible impact on COVID numbers while resulting in a devastating impact on the casino industry. He detailed this by saying that a blanket implementation of a 10 pm curfew on businesses would be catastrophic and would lead to permanent casino closures. He also stressed that casino closures would certainly result in thousands of job redundancies.
Dugher also highlighted the efforts casinos have made in order to keep their establishments safe by saying that ever since the August reopening. He further detailed this by saying that casinos prioritize the safety of their customer and staff and have implemented the best in class safety measures such as sophisticated track and trace systems, limits on capacity, and perspex screens which were all checked by the Public Health England and the Department for Health and Social Care, declaring casinos as not high risk. He also added that any new social distancing measures shout not just be arbitrarily applied to those establish already proven to be COVID secure but instead should be focused on the areas and age groups that are most at risk.
Both Dugher and Genting UK’s President, Paul Wilcock, wrote a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden. The letter details that the proposed move would devastate casino operators as the majority of these establishments’ business, about 50 to 70%, pick up after 10 pm. The letter also stipulates the average customer demographics in casinos. It reveals that the typical casino customer is 48 years old, well above the demographic that ministers and councillors are trying to target with the curfew. It also details that the target demographic do not tend to gather and drink at casinos after 10 pm and that casino operators are vowing to actively prevent such from happening.
In-land casinos are yet to bounce back from the lockdown restrictions as last month was their first reopening date since the 5-month long lockdown period. Having just opened, casino attendances are only 5 to 60% of pre-COVID levels. A disruption to the casino industry would not only endanger the jobs of the 14,000 people it employs but also disrupt its millions-worth tax contribution to the Treasury. With that in mind, the letter also urges the government to extend its furlough scheme or introduce targeted support for businesses that are trying to recover.