Casinos in the Netherlands are set to reopen on 1 July, two months ahead of schedule, according to an announcement from Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge.
All casinos in the country closed in mid-March in order to limit the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and had previously not been scheduled to reopen until 1 September.
However, this drew criticism from state-owned land-based operator Holland Casino and national gambling industry trade association VAN Kansspelen, who described the decision as “irresponsible”.
Representatives from both organisations met with representatives from the country’s government earlier this month to outline their concerns over the reopening date.
Rutte said that as long as the virus continues to decline, an earlier opening date should be possible.
“This will only go ahead if there is room to do so, and if we continue to keep to the social distancing rules,” Rutte said. “The entire set of rules for July 1 will only continue if it is really possible.”
The move was welcomed by VAN Kansspelen.
“Recently, we as a sector have worked hard to be corona-proof and have had many conversations with stakeholders,” Frits Huffnagel, chairman of VAN Kansspelen, said. “In doing so, we convinced the cabinet that we can safely open again for our guests.”
Huffnagel said capacity for casinos will be reduced after reopening in order to prevent transmission of the virus.
“It will take some getting used to again when we open up with a range of measures to make visiting a casino safe and enjoyable,” Huffnagel said. “We could have opened today, but we are very much looking forward to welcoming guests again as of 1 July.
“The sector has gone through a difficult time due to the mandatory closure. From July 1, capacity will be less than guests of our members are used to, but a night out in a casino will soon be possible again.”
VAN Kansospel has set up a Covid-19 protocol for its members to follow in order to help with the safe reopening of casinos.