After 4 months of closure due to the COVID-19 lockdown, UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has finally confirmed that England’s casinos have been given the green light to reopen by August 1st.
The Government’s decision to finally give a date for the reopening has been greatly welcomed by the UK’s Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) as they have been persuading the government to do so ever since the easing of the lockdown protocols. The decision is lauded by the BGC not only because it is a major boost to the hospitality and tourism industry but also because of its positive impact on the economy.
Casino re-openings mean that over 12,000 people and their jobs are secured while also benefiting the economy as the Treasury will no longer be spending on salary subsidies, allowing it to use this budget on more important things. Also, the Treasury will no longer be missing out on big contributions and revenues as land-based casinos contribute tax payments amounting to £5.7m each week. This decision is timely because ever since July, casinos have already done their part and invested heavily in measures that will keep their premises COVID safe. These measures include investing in sanitation equipment, barrier screens, strict social distancing floor measures, changes in game arrangements and sanitation procedures, and sophisticated track and trace systems, all in accordance with the strict COVID guidelines provided by the government.
In light of this good news, Betting and Gaming Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Dugher, extends his gratitude towards DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, Minister Nigel Huddleston, and the many cross-party MPs who supported the BGC and worked hard to secure a reopening date. He also said that after the long months of lockdown, it is fantastic to see casinos reopening safely for business by August. He also expressed his delight in this as casinos can now play their part in supporting the tourism and hospitality sector’s recovery. He also emphasised that BGC casino members went the extra mile in order to meet the strict COVID guidelines prior to July but were left in the dark as to when they were allowed to reopen. Further adding that Britain’s casinos employ thousands of people and pay millions in tax but they were one of the few remaining leisure and hospitality businesses to be exempt from the reopening.
Despite this good news, the same cannot be said to other parts of the UK as Scottish and Welsh casinos are still forced to close down due to lockdown restrictions, risking 2,000 jobs. In a bid to rectify the situation, the BGC has reached out to administrators in an attempt to let them ‘show their hands’ in order to end the uncertainty for these employees. In light of this, Michael Dugher also stressed that the uncertainty in England’s casino reopening has been awful for the 12,000 people who work in the industry, and because of this, he calls on the Scottish and Welsh governments to follow suit and permit casinos to reopen without delay. He stressed that the ‘devolved’ administrations owe it to the 2,000 employees who work in the industry and must help them return to work.