Michael Dugher, chief executive at the Betting and Gaming Council, has cautioned that any further delays may lead to potential job losses he is now sure would happen because of the decision to defer casino reopenings to August 15.
BGC Condemns Delays in British Casino Reopenings
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), an industry standards body in the United Kingdom, has cautioned that delaying the reopening of the brick-and-mortar casino sector in the country could put 6,000 jobs at risk.
Casinos in the country were scheduled to reopen on Saturday, August 1, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson rescheduled those plans first indefinitely, and then for August 15. The government cited a spike in the COVID-19 rate of infections, which has been going up in the United Kingdom over the past weeks.
The move affected a number of venues, beyond casinos, including bowling alleys as well as indoor theaters and dining venues. BGC chief executive Michael Dugher was quick to share his dismay at the decision, which effectively cost casinos millions of pounds to prepare for reopening on August 1, including bringing back furloughed members of the staff.
To comply with health and safety standards, casinos have installed sanitization stations, plexiglass screens, and trace systems, as well as various mechanisms to ensure social distancing between patrons. However, none of this was really necessary with the government reneging on its promise.
According to Dugher and the BGC, a week of shutdown costs the industry excessive of $6.50 million. Dugher didn’t spare his words in light of the latest decision, calling out the government’s decision and comparing them to a “wrecking ball.”
Job Losses Could Have Been Avoided, Dugher Says
Job losses that could have been avoided, Dugher pointed out, were now certainly going to happen due to the sudden volte-face the government made. Jobs and livelihoods had been put at risk, Dugher continued, due to the delays, and any further delays would mean further job losses.
Dugher and the BGC weren’t the only parties to remonstrate against the government’s last-minute decision.
Genting Casino, a company that has already begun pulling out assets from the United Kingdom, with 1,600 jobs in the United Kingdom alone at risk, confirmed Dugher’s bleak outlook. Three properties are threatened by closures, Genting warned earlier this year.
Heart-breaking as those decisions were, Genting said, they were necessary to guarantee the sustainability of the brand’s business and operations in the United Kingdom.
Another company that has been looking at the situation with caution is Rank Group. Rank Group employees some 4,600 people across the Grosvenor Casino arm and many jobs may be threatened unless the government is able to guarantee that business would be allowed to return to some form of normality.
Commenting on these developments, Dugher added: “The Job Retention Scheme has helped but our members will now be forced to pay National Insurance and pension contributions on top of salaries in August while they remain closed.”
Because furlough payments are now coming to an end, any delays or upsets in the reopening schedule would most likely cost thousands of jobs lost, Dugher concluded.