ECA survey reveals COVID-19 impact on casinos

The European Casino Association (ECA) has released details of its latest member survey which tracks the impact of Covid-19 measures recently introduced by European governments. Following the devastating consequences of the pandemic on the land-based casino industry in Europe over the last two years, ECA members continue to operate under strict governmental controls and mandates at the start of 2022.

On average, European casinos faced 150 days of closure in 2021. While most countries currently allow casinos to open, with the exception of Holland and Denmark, curfews are widespread curtailing the operating hours of casinos and restricting the F&B offer to partial guest services. The ECA survey reveals that Hungary experienced the lowest number of enforced days of closure in 2021 at 54, while France experienced the highest number, with metropolitan areas closed for 199 days.

Proof of vaccination is required at over 95% of European casinos, with a negative lateral-flow test insufficient for admission, causing distinct problems for casinos reliant on cross-border custom. Social distancing requirements for guests vary from country to country, starting from one metre in Sweden, rising to 15 square metres in Poland. Safety requirements mandate that every adjacent slot machine is made unavailable for play, effectively halving the slots offer of most properties. Guests are required to wear masks throughout their stay in 95% of casinos in Europe, while over half of all European casino staff are required to wear masks during the entirety of their working hours.

Employee testing and strict hygiene protocols continue to be observed by all casinos with the consumption of drinks and food prohibited from gaming areas across many locations. Curfews for the closure of restaurants are in place in several jurisdictions, while casinos have a variety of closing times mandated upon them by authorities ranging from 10 pm-11 pm in most countries.

Per Jaldung, chairman of the ECA, said: “Closures, curbs and curfews continue to disrupt the normal flow of operations for ECA members into 2022,”

“While the majority of casinos in Europe are open for business, the restrictions on opening times, the reduction of the gaming and F&B offer, plus further guest and staff requirements continue to put enormous pressures on the business. Government help and support needs to continue into 2022 as ECA members battle to keep their locations open to provide entertainment, employment and tax revenues, as they play an essential role within the international tourism and leisure industry.”

Example of restrictions presently facing casino operators in Europe include:

Sweden: Guests must be seated at all times during play.

Hungary: PCR tests must be shown, even for the fully vaccinated.

France: Food and drink prohibited in games areas.

Austria: FFP2 mask must be worn at all times by staff and guests.

Luxembourg: Events limited to 200 people.

Poland: One guest per 15 square metres.

UK: Staff told to work from home if possible.

Estonia: Casinos must close at 11 pm.

Montenegro: No music or shows of any kind.

Slovenia: F&B offer must cease at 10 pm.