In light of the UK’s latest lockdown, casinos and betting shops have voluntarily implemented further Covid restrictions in a bid to be allowed to re-open in Tier 3 areas.
The Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, Micheal Dugher, has made a direct plea to Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Matt Hancock, saying that the venues will go much further than they have already had to make sure that their premises are Covid-secure. This plea comes after the permanent closure of six casinos, with one operator downsizing its workforce by forty per cent.
In his letter to Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Dugher details the extra measures that casinos and bettings shops will implement in order to have their restrictions lifted. Dugher detailed that casinos are prepared to stop live games such as roulette, blackjack and poker. He further went on to say that casinos will further bring down their max operating capacity to twenty-five per cent and that they would stop selling alcohol entirely if allowed to remain open after the 10 pm curfew. As for betting shops, Dugher detailed that they will limit the length of time customers can stay in their shops, cap the number of customers allowed in their shops at any one time and halt all of their vending and hot drinks sales.
The BGC points out that both players in the UK’s gambling industry employ over 50,000 people and contribute £1.5bn a year to the Exchequer. It also pointed out that casinos generate £120m a year in tourism spend while betting shops pay £280m a year to horseracing in media rights and levy payments. It also went on to highlight that both casinos and betting shops have been safely operating since summer with no evidence that they have contributed to the spread of the virus.
In his letters, Dugher has expressed that the BGC’s members are fully supportive of the Government’s efforts to tackle Covid and that is why betting shops have the best anti-covid measures in High Street and why casinos have the best-in-class anti-Covid measures compared with any other part of hospitality. He further went on to say that casinos and betting shops are deeply concerned about the huge negative impact that closure of their businesses is having on their staff, customers, suppliers and sports, whilst having a negligible impact on the virus’ spread. Dugher went on to highlight that the BGC’s members have offered to introduce further restrictions on customer numbers, facilities and products available to reassure the government and the public that opening these businesses in Tier 3 is possible.
Dugher went on to point out the current state of the UK’s land-based gambling industry. He revealed that there have been substantial reductions in employment with one operator having reduced its workforce by over 40 per cent to date. He also revealed that Casino businesses had a strong start at the beginning of the year but is no longer the case during the closure with costs amounting to up to £15 million per month for some operators.
Calling on the government’s reconsideration, Dugher has stated that he would be extremely grateful if serious consideration is given to these measures which are proactively offered up by the BGC’s members to provide further reassurance that they are safe to re-open in Tier 3 areas.