Last week, we looked at how bingo halls across the UK are beginning to open up again as lockdown restrictions across all four nations continue to ease. However, it’s been a rather different story for land-based casinos which, up until recently, had been instructed to remain closed.
The Betting and Gaming Council has been urging the government, as well as the devolved administrations, to provide further clarity for the casino sector (which employs more than 12,000 people in England alone), and it looks like its efforts are beginning to pay off.
On Friday, 17th July, Boris Johnson confirmed that casinos across England can begin trading again from Saturday, 1st August 2020.
The BGC’s Chief Executive, Michael Dugher, says that “it’s fantastic to see casinos will reopen safely for business again” and that they’ll now be able to “play their part in supporting the recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector”.
He described the four-month-long wait for the government’s green light as “awful for the 12,000 people who work in casinos in England” and is now appealing to the Welsh and Scottish governments to follow suit and agree a date on which casinos in their respective countries can reopen.
Despite the good news for casinos operating within England, the damaging effects of lockdown have already taken their toll on some of the UK’s biggest gambling operators. For example, Buzz Bingo has confirmed that 26 of its 117 bingo venues will not be reopening, and now Genting has said that it plans to close 3 of its 43 casinos in Bristol, Margate and Torquay, as they are no longer “financially viable”.
Genting’s management team says that around 1,640 jobs are at risk of redundancy, although it hopes to mitigate “job losses as much as possible”. Many of the staff who are likely to be affected remain on furlough, with the operator planning to do everything in its power “to bring those individuals back into the business at a later stage”.