BGC slams ‘illogical’ North East casino curfew

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has slammed the further lockdown imposed on North East England, stating that the restrictions will ‘inevitably lead to job losses in the casino sector’.

Following a recent surge in coronavirus cases across the region, health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the enforcement of a ‘regional lockdown’, which will see leisure and entertainment venues, such as casinos, closed between the hours of 10pm and 5am.

The restrictions, which will be reviewed weekly, also mean restaurants will only be able to offer table service and restaurants, bars and pubs will have to shut between the designated times.

Almost two million residents are now banned from socialising with individuals outside of their household or support bubble, as well as being urged to only use public transport for essential purposes.

A spokesperson for the Betting and Gaming Council said: “This is a hugely disappointing and illogical decision which will inevitably lead to job losses in the casino sector.

“While we fully support the need to act quickly to protect public health, the simple fact is that casinos are among the most Covid-secure in the country, so ordering their closure as a way of slowing the spread of the virus makes no sense.”

Casinos in England were permitted to reopen their doors on August 15, with their reopening delayed by two weeks following a ‘last minute u-turn’ by the Conservative government.

This delay, according to the BGC, cost the sector over £14 million maintaining venues under lockdown for a period of six months. At the time, the industry standards body warned that the next few months will be ‘crucial to their recovery’, with English casinos ‘not out of the woods’.

“Just last month, casinos in England were given the go-ahead by public health experts to re-open after they saw for themselves the anti-Covid measures they had put in place – from Perspex screens to best-in-class track and trace systems,” the BGC added in its statement.

“What’s more, most casino customers are on their own or in couples, making it easier to maintain social distancing in venues.

“And with casinos doing between 50 and 70 per cent of their trade between 10pm and 5am, they will be disproportionately harmed by the Government’s decision, meaning some may never be able to open their doors again. We would urge ministers to urgently reconsider this catastrophic and retrograde move.”

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