Responding to Boris Johnson’s announcement of further Covid restrictions, Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “Boris Johnson may well have signalled the death knell for the casino industry by including them in the list of venues which will be forced to close their doors at 10pm.
“He has taken this decision despite the sector offering to close its bars and restaurants inside casinos at 10pm and despite the fact the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport argued that casinos – which do up to 70% of their trade after 10pm – should be exempt from these restrictions.
“In his statement, the Prime Minister said ‘we will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way’. But his own public health officials saw for themselves the sophisticated anti-Covid measures which casinos have put in place – and then gave them the go-ahead to re-open just last month because they are Covid-safe.
“It is now absolutely vital that the Government throws the industry a lifeline by putting in place an urgent economic package to alleviate the damage that this decision will cause. That must include an extension to the furlough scheme beyond 31 October, while there is also merit in Labour’s calls for a £1.7bn ‘High Street fightback fund’ to help those businesses affected by the curfew.
“The 10pm curfew will slash casino incomes by up to 75% and likely lead to half their workforce – some 7,000 people – being made redundant.
“Without immediate and substantial financial help from the Government, perfectly viable casinos – which between them paid £1.3bn in tax to the Treasury in the last three years – will simply go to the wall. How does the Prime Minister hope to power an economic recovery if he’s sat back and allowed whole industries to go to the wall?”