BGC calls on UK government to act quickly over casino lockdown omission

Ministers have been urged to work with casino operators to ensure they can open their doors again this summer.

It comes after Boris Johnson confirmed the venues have been excluded from a list of hospitality and leisure establishments which will be able to resume their business on 4 July as the Covid-19 lockdown is eased.

Every casino in the country has been closed since 23 March as part of the national effort to tackle the spread of the virus.

In addition, many casinos have opened their kitchens to help key workers and vulnerable groups, while their car parks have also been made available free of charge to NHS staff.

The sector also contributes more than £300m a year to the Treasury, and employs 14,000 people.

Casino operators have worked round the clock to ensure their premises, and the way they operate, adhere to the Government’s strict anti-Covid guidelines. They now want to work urgently with ministers on any outstanding issues which will enable them to re-open their doors safely as soon after 4 July as possible.

Measures the casinos have already introduced include ensuring customers use hand sanitisers before entering the casino, as well as when joining and leaving a gaming table.

  • Entry to casinos would also be limited to one person at a time, with social distancing enforced in any queues outside.
  • Table capacity limits would be enforced to reduce the risk of infection, with face coverings made available to customers on request.
  • Floor layouts have been re-designed to ensure social distancing at all times, while gaming machines will be cleaned after each play session and ATMs will be sanitised at least once an hour.
  • Plexiglass screens may also be used where necessary to maintain social distancing and protect staff and customers.

But despite these efforts, the Prime Minister today (TUES) announced that casinos will not be included in the lengthy list of establishments which can open their doors again on 4 July.

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Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “We welcome the fact that the lockdown is being eased further. The whole country has made sacrifices over the past few months to combat the coronavirus and it’s good news that the Government is determined to get the economy moving again by reopening the likes of pubs, restaurants, cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls, whilst protecting public health.

“But it is inconsistent and frankly nonsensical that casinos are being forced to remain closed, when other parts of the hospitality and leisure industry are opening up again.

“Our casino members make a huge contribution to the economy, sustaining thousands of jobs and providing large amounts of much-needed tax revenue to the Treasury. Casinos have done everything that they were asked to do by the Government and they have pulled out all the stops to ensure they are able to open their doors safely for both staff and customers from 4 July.

“It is therefore extremely disappointing that the Government has not yet cleared casinos to reopen. We want to urgently work with Ministers to ensure that casinos are reopened safely and as speedily as possible this summer”.

 

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