The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has recently demanded action from the government to mitigate the impact of its decision to further delay England’s casino reopenings to at least August 15, without any exact dates given.
The regulator demands an extension of the furlough scheme for casino employees in order to help safeguard their jobs. The government introduced this scheme to keep people employed despite the Covid-19 lockdown, however, this scheme is about to conclude by October and is currently already winding down. The regulator has accounted for up to 6,000 jobs at risk or worse, permanently lost, if casino reopenings are continued to be delayed. The regulator has emphasised that this number also has the dangerous potential to increase if government support schemes are withdrawn or if no reopening schedule changes are to happen.
BGC’s Chief Executive Michael Dugher has emphasised that casino operators have complied with regulatory health regulations and that they have gone through extraordinary lengths and costs to keep their premises COVID safe. It is estimated that casino operators have spent almost £6 million in reopening preparations and these include perspex screens, sanitisation equipment, sophisticated track and trace systems, and as well as strict social distancing measures and hygiene protocols. All of these efforts were recognised by public health officials of Public Health England and casino operators were subsequently given the green light to reopen by August 1. However, this decision was reversed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson due to COVID rise concerns.
The BGC has also claimed that maintained casino closures pose a risk to the UK’s rich tourism and entertainment heritage, pointing out that the delay has cost the industry over £14 million.
Dugher also said that world-famous and iconic venues such as the Hippodrome and Les Ambassadeurs are not just part of the UK’s proud past but also want to take part in the economy’s future revival. He also emphasised that by reopening safely, these venues can play their part in contributing to the economy’s movement while also contributing to vital tax revenues. He also added that some of Britain’s most iconic casinos, who attract high spending visitors around the world are just sitting idle while pubs and restaurants are operating relatively healthily. Dugher also demanded that the government step in and save these businesses before its too late and the first step they can take is by extending the furlough scheme to help offset the £14 million that casinos are facing to lose as a result of the delayed reopening, He also demanded that the government must compensate casinos for their wasted costs due to the late change of decision in their reopening.
The BGC has been closely working with its members in order to document the government’s recent decisions that not only impact the economy but also communities with its approach of continually sidelining venues from reopening. Many of its partners have recently shared opinions against the government’s blanket approach to the pandemic situation. Despite taking the necessary precautions, the government has insisted on casino closures due to health concerns despite public health regulators saying otherwise.