Rank Group’s Chief Executive Officer, John O’Reilly has expressed his disappointment with UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s announcement on June 23. The announcement entails the UK government’s reluctance to have casinos reopen by July 4.
Despite working hard with Ministers, their anticipation and preparations appear to have been for naught as the announcement excludes casinos from reopening. Rank’s CEO has described the latest lockdown easing orders on the hospitality and leisure industry as “baffling and incoherent” because while casinos are not allowed to reopen, but other hospitality and leisure venues, such as bingo halls, are allowed to do so without giving proper justifications.
As the leader of UK’s largest multi-channel casino group, O’Reilly mentioned that their Grosvenor and Mecca sites have scrupulously worked with the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) and Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) ministers in ensuring that all venues follow the government’s strict anti-Covid guidelines and are equipped with the necessary precautionary and sanitary measures to keep employees and customers safe.
O’Reilly said that their exclusion from the 4th July business reopening came as a tough blow. Rather than focusing on the decision’s injustice, his group is struggling to understand the rationale behind the Government’s decision. He is keen on encouraging key decision-makers and government ministers to witness and observe first-hand the measures in place at their facilities and see for themselves the safety guarantee for workers and customers alike.
He further stated that the HM Treasury must acknowledge the consequences of not allowing land-based casino businesses to open of which Rank’s current negative (loss) cash flow is £10 million per month, taking into account the revenue from its digital services. He further explained that for every day that their Grosvenor casinos remain inoperational, their balance sheet liquidity is being drained and at the same time, their reliance on the Government’s furlough payments will not be relinquished for the majority of their 4600 Grosvenor employees, costing the Government £1.5 million every week.
He also reminded the Treasury that, prior to the COVID lockdown situation, Rank’s land-based operations contribute about £1.5 million per week in tax payments. He is urging the Government to quickly review its decision and recognise the safety measures they have in place, including their ability to identify every customer in their premises and every past customer interactions and to include casinos when reopening is discussed as soon as possible.
He also stated that Rank executives are working with labour unions Unite and GMB and by doing so, they will be able to bring back people to work as quickly as they can. This will allow them to reverse the economic burden on the Government and their business that is costing them hundreds of thousands each by day.
O’Reilly emphasised that time is of the essence as the company seeks to avoid redundancies in the summer months and rebuild customer demand but will prove difficult to execute as long as they remain closed.