One of the biggest gambling operators in the UK is appealing to the First Minister of Scotland in a bid to get its casinos and bingo halls reopened.
The Rank Group, which owns both Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casino, is calling on Nicola Sturgeon to perform a U-turn on her recent decision to close many gambling-based entertainment venues within areas of Scotland that fall within the country’s Level 2 or above.
The operator currently owns 11 bingo halls and 5 casinos in Scottish towns and cities, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Glasgow, all of which will be forced to close under new COVID-19 restrictions that have been set by the Scottish government.
Rank’s chief executive, John O’Reilly, has written to the First Minister to outline his concerns over the “grossly unfair” treatment of the gambling sector. He says that the government’s decisions that surround its most recent categorisation of Scottish shops and business “are anything but evidence-based” and that casinos and bingo halls are being unfairly discriminated against compared to cinemas, bars, pubs, restaurants, and amusement arcades.
In coming to the defence of casinos and bingo halls, Mr O’Reilly says that its Mecca Bingo venues have already put in place seating plans that ensure 2-metre-plus spacing, as well as one-way systems while its Grosvenor Casinos have installed plexiglass to ensure that visitors can play safely. He also believes that one of its most popular casinos, the Maybury in Edinburgh, has invested in excess of £100k in Coronavirus-related safety measures.
The Maybury’s operations manager, Mark McCluskey, echoes Mr O’Reilly’s sentiments, saying that the casino has by “far and away the most secure COVID-environment in hospitality”.
Both men are concerned that the proposed closures will not only affect The Rank Group’s finances, but also take their toll on the mental health of both customers and staff.