The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the ‘belated good news’ that casinos in England will be able to reopen from tomorrow, but warned that the next few months will be ‘crucial to their recovery’.
Casinos in England were initially scheduled to reopen on 1 August, but a ‘last minute u-turn’ by the government postponed such plans, which the BGC pointed out cost the sector over £14 million.
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the BGC commented: “This belated good news will come as a welcome relief to the 12,000 people employed in the casino sector in England. We regret that it has taken so long for staff to return to work – long after all manner of venues and activities, that don’t have anything like the anti-covid measures you will see in any casino, were reopened.
“Given casinos had been cleared by Public Health England as safe to reopen and given we had the strong support of DCMS, who have been steadfast throughout, it was lamentable that our safe businesses had to suffer considerable hurt and expense with a further pointless two week delay.
“Casinos are not yet out of the woods though. The last five months has left many casinos on the brink and the next few months will be particularly crucial to their recovery as the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector slowly gets back on its feet.”
Earlier this week, the BGC called for an extension of the furlough scheme to help offset the cost incurred by the delay, claiming that the maintained closure of casinos put the UK at risk of ‘permanently losing part of its rich tourism and entertainment heritage’.
Dugher added: “This sector can play an important part in our national economic recovery and I hope ministers will continue to work closely with the industry to provide support through this difficult period. In return, casinos will continue to play their part in helping to revive our city centres and night time economy, as well as supporting the country through the £1 billion economic contribution it makes in direct and indirect Gross Value Added.”
Dugher also called upon the Scottish governments to be ‘true to its stated commitment’ regarding the reopening of casinos later this month.
He concluded: “We hope that the Scottish Government will be true to its stated commitment about helping businesses, and allow casinos in Scotland to reopen as scheduled on 24th August. Casinos have invested heavily in new Covid safeguards. There can be no justification for further delaying their opening.
“We continue to urge the Welsh Government to fully engage with the sector and seek the reassurances we can provide to bring about the safe reopening of casinos in Wales.”