Casino operators in the UK received another blow Friday, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay to the further easing of virus restrictions in the country for at least two more weeks, putting the re-opening of casinos, ice rinks and bowling halls on hold. The announcement that the scheduled for August 1 re-opening of casinos is postponed for a further 2 weeks, at least, shuttered the hopes of the casino operators that they will finally be able to restart the business.
Casinos Will Have to Wait Longer
Casinos in the UK have been closed since March 20, to comply with the measures to curb the outbreak of the virus, and despite the effort from the casino representative body, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), were not allowed to re-open either June 15, when high-street betting shops resumed operations, or July 4, when bingo halls were allowed to restart.
Mid-July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced casinos and other larger indoor venues would be allowed to re-open August 1, but the latest decision to delay the planned easing of the restrictions mean casinos would have to wait longer before they have a green light to restart.
“That means until August 15 at the earliest casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and the remaining close-contact services must remain closed. ‘Indoor performances will not resume, pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues and conference centres will not take place, and wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted.”Prime Minister Boris Johnson
The complete U-turn by the Government left the casino industry representative bogy in utter dismay. BGC CEO Michael Dugher wrote a letter to Chancellor Rushi Sunak questioning the viability of the Government’s strategy to deal with the threat from the virus, branding the decision as damaging to businesses and thousands of staff they employ.
“This latest fiasco represents a huge blow to the casino industry which will now have remained closed for nearly 5 months. Casinos are a fundamental part of our leisure, hospitality, entertainment and tourism industry. They employ over 14,000 people and indirectly support another 4,000 jobs across the UK, and last year casinos paid over £5.7m million in tax per week.”Michael Dugher, CEO, BGC
Casino operators spent millions of pounds preparing to re-open, including recalling staff off furlough, training and food and beverage supplies, further outlined Mr Dugher, warning that “significant redundancies” could now result from the latest announcement as operators struggle with the huge financial costs of remaining closed.
Indeed, casino operators in the country are considering every option to keep afloat, even the permanent closing down of gaming venues. Caesars Entertainment announced in June its Rendezvous casino in Southend will not reopen, and in July, Genting Casinos confirmed its properties in Torquay, Margate and Bristol will close permanently.