According to Rank Group’s retail managing director, Jonathan Swaine, the removal of the 10 pm curfew is hugely welcome once casino venues reopen on May 17.
Swaine’s remarks follow Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement this week when the PM unveiled England’s roadmap out of lockdown. April 12 was set as the date for the reopening of betting shops in England, with adult gaming centres, bingo halls and casinos scheduled to follow on May 17.
Swaine explained that he and alongside the whole industry watched with anticipation as the government rolled out the four steps to freedom and that they were delighted to hear that both bingo halls and casinos are expected to be able to reopen alongside other indoor leisure and hospitality businesses on 17 May; subject to the data going in the right direction at each stage. He added that the removal of the 10 pm curfew is also hugely welcome news, especially for Grosvenor Casinos.
Swaine also added that the industry and especially Grosvernor Casinos are looking forward to welcoming customers back in May and will share updates on their safety measures, as well as news on a number of exciting campaigns, in due course.
During his address to the nation, PM Johnson noted that Britain’s reopening would rely on empirical data regarding the spread of the virus and highlighted that there would be at least five weeks between each step. The PM also emphasised that each step is to be reviewed in accordance with the data of the virus and may be delayed accordingly.
Simon Thomas, Hippodrome Casino’s chief executive, commented on the evening of the PM’s announcement on BBC News. He explained how the lockdown affected the industry and the steps the company has taken to ensure the welfare of its staff.
He further went on to explain that the company’s balance sheet is now in tatters with a lot of debt and despite this, the company has been spending a lot of time with its staff, trying to help them with the emotional challenges of not knowing when they can go back to work or not knowing if there’s work to go back to.
Thomas also highlighted that all the stuff done in the name of COVID has a consequence and a cost as well, and it is business owners that are suffering. Because of this, Thomas stressed that the casino industry wants to be back up and running and serve its customers.
The Betting and Gaming Council called for a fair playing field prior to the government’s announcement. The BGC has pressed the government stressing that betting shops and casinos must be allowed to reopen at the same date as other businesses in the sector.
The BGC pointed out its members, who employ 44,000 people in betting shops and casinos across the UK, are ready to support economic recovery and must be given the same opportunities to reopen as other parts of the economy.
In light of the Government’s detailed out of lockdown steps, the BGC has supported calls to delay the Grand National until the reopening of betting shops, arguing that this would offer a timely boost to racing and the high street.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, explained that delaying the Grand National until betting shops are open is definitely an idea worth exploring. He added that he appreciates the idea and that it is not without its challenges, but the BGC is willing to do all it can to help iron out any difficulties.
Dugher also added that this move will ensure that the once-a-year punters are able to pop into their local bookies to have a flutter, supporting their local high street, on the world’s most famous horse race would also help make the Grand National a truly national celebration as Britain begins to reopen its economy. He also pointed out that it would ensure that the industry will engage as many people as possible in this great British event, showcasing the fabulous sport of racing.
Finally, Dugher stressed that this would also provide a much-needed and timely boost for racing and the high street after such a torrid year for both.