The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has confirmed that London casinos are prepared to close their bar premises in order to avoid a curfew being imposed on the capital’s entertainment venues.
The BGC’s statement comes as the government reviews further lockdown measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as the UK enters its autumn months.
Latest news reports suggest that London Mayor Sadiq Khan is thought to favour a curfew on all leisure and hospitality venues, forcing them to close their doors at 10 pm.
Leadership of London’s 26 land-based casinos, including the Hippodrome, the Grosvenor, Caesars and the Clermont Club have written a joint-letter to Khan stating that ‘such a move would have a catastrophic impact on the sector – as 70% of trade occurs past 10 pm’.
Casino bosses urged Khan not to impose a blanket curfew on venues which are trying to re-establish their businesses following the impact of the UK’s first lockdown.
Instead, London casinos are willing to compromise by stopping the sale of alcohol after 10 pm, thereby preventing large groups from congregating to drink.
“By all means address the core issue of drinking rather than slamming a blanket curfew on our venues which would do nothing to suppress the spread of the virus but which would simply sound the death knell for jobs and for famous London casinos,” the letter to Mayo Khan read.
In the letter put forward by the BGC, casino bosses underlined that their venues have maintained the strictest standards on the highstreet to ensure public safety and that venues are covid-secure.
The BGC reminded Khan that casino venues employ some 14,000 people across the UK and paid £1.3bn to the Treasury in tax over the last three years.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “The 10pm curfew just risks encouraging young people to mix in households, where there is no track and trace, and spreading the virus further and faster.
“But if the London Mayor or Government want to close pubs and restaurants at 10pm, we can do that in the casinos too, while continuing to provide a best-in-class Covid-secure environment. This might be a sensible compromise.
“The alternative is the prospect of thousands of job losses – both in London and across the UK – and the permanent closure of some of the capital’s most iconic casinos that can help power our much-needed economic recovery.”