Casinos in London came up with a counter proposal to the idea of a general COVID curfew that would see all leisure and entertainment businesses in the capital close doors at 10pm. The gambling establishments proposed to close just their bars, instead of the alternative that was already imposed to casinos and entertainment venues in other parts of the country.
London Casinos Approach the Mayor
26 land-based casinos in the capital expressed their concerns in a letter to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is thought to be in favour of the general curfew. The bosses of the gambling establishments among which the names of the Hippodrome, the Grosvenor, Caesars and the Clermont Club, pointed out that the majority of casino business, 70%, takes place after 10pm, and such a curfew would be catastrophic for the industry.
Casinos generally contribute in excess of £180 million a year to the city’s budget, helping sustain around 4,000 jobs in the process, but are already suffering the adverse effect from the lockdown, as well as the virus-induced impact on tourism in the capital. The gambling venues were only recently allowed to resume operations and the proposed general curfew will additionally cripple their operations.
Safety Measures Approved by Senior Health Officials
The CEOs noted to the Mayor that gambling establishments were given the final go-ahead to reopen by senior public health officials, among which Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam, having witnessed the safety measures and protocols casinos had put in place to protect the public and their employees.
The gambling venues which employ 14,000 people across the country and contributed £1.3 billion to the Treasury in tax over the last three years, felt their business would suffer a severe economic impact if a blanket ban is imposed.
“If London is subjected to a 10pm curfew, most of our casinos will be unviable and some will inevitably close, with the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in the capital as the furlough scheme nears its end.”Official letter
Drinking Risks Virus Transmission, Not Gambling
Casino bosses expressed their fears that instead of dealing with the major issue which contributes most to large group congregations, drinking, authorities may impose a general curfew and cripple the industry which is seeking to rebound from the initial coronavirus impact. The likelihood of group congregation on casino floors into the small hours is very low, the CEOs outlined, due to the lack of young people as the average age of a casino visitor is 48.
The counter proposal has the support of the casino industry body, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). Michael Dugher, BGC’s CEO, outlined that a general curfew would be devastating for the sector, and, instead of eliminating the risk of young people congregations, would encourage them to mix in households. Closing bars and restaurants in the capital at 10pm would be a more reasonable approach and the casinos will support it by closing their bars after that time, Mr Dugher concluded.