BGC welcomes UK casinos re-opening

London Hippodrome Casino Casino International

At an opening ceremony just after midnight on May 17th, Simon Thomas cut heavy chains from the front door of the Hippodrome Casino on Charing Cross Road, then cut the front door key in half. Thomas said: “We were delighted to open our doors, and relieved. It’s a true signal the West End of London is back for business and we’re already recruiting 70 people to meet demand. The Hippodrome is the beating heart of the city’s entertainment district and bookings for the return of Magic Mike Live and our steak house are through the roof. We spent lockdown investing a further £3m in the business and officially launched our new Gods Casino and three-tier outdoor terrace last night too. It was a busy evening.”

UK industry standards body the Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed the safe re-opening of casinos across the UK and the further easing of restrictions imposed on betting shops.

In the latest relaxation of the Covid lockdown, more than 100 casinos across England, Scotland and Wales have opened for the first time this year.

Returning customers will have to comply with the anti-Covid measures the venues have put in place, such as making use of hand sanitisers, wearing face masks and following social distancing rules.

In Scotland, rules imposed by the Scottish Government mean casinos will close at 10.30pm and are not allowed to sell alcohol. However, casinos in Glasgow will remain closed after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the city was remaining under Level 3 restrictions.

Britain’s casinos directly employ 11,600 people and, in the year before the pandemic, contributed £500 million to the Treasury in tax. In addition, casinos in London also contribute £120m to the capital’s tourism sector.

Meanwhile, anti-Covid restrictions imposed on betting shops in England when they re-opened last month – such as a ban on showing live sport on TV – are also being lifted from today.

Customers in Scottish betting shops – apart from those in Glasgow and Moray, which is also remaining in Level 3 – will be allowed access to gaming machines for the first time since they re-opened on April 26.

According to a report by Ernst and Young commissioned by the BGC, betting shops across the UK support 46,000 jobs and pay nearly £1bn a year in tax to the Treasury. They also help to plough £350m into horseracing through media rights and the betting levy.

Overall, the regulated betting and gaming industry contributes £7.7bn to the economy in gross value added.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said the moves were “a fantastic boost” for casino and betting shop customers, staff and the UK economy.

Michael Dugher said: “It’s great news that most of the UK’s casinos are finally able to re-open – and is a testament to the hard work that staff have put in making them Covid-secure.

“As well as providing excellent entertainment for their customers, casinos are a major contributor to the UK economy, something which will be vital in the months ahead as the Government tries to repair the damage done to the nation’s finances by Covid-19.

“I am also delighted that the restrictions imposed on betting shops are being lifted. Their safe re-opening in April has been a huge success and this is further reward for the efforts they have made to ensure their premises are Covid-secure.”