Gauselmann CEO blasts British government over reopening roadmap

| By Robert Fletcher
Paul Gauselmann, founder and chief executive of the Gauselmann Group, has hit out at the British government for its decision to exclude adult gaming centres from the list of non-essential retail facilities that can reopen from 12 April.

Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that English betting shops would be able to resume operations alongside other non-essential retail as part of the country’s roadmap out of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.

However, adult gaming centres, alongside casinos and bingo halls, will not be permitted to reopen until the next stage of the roadmap on 17 May, when a number of other Covid-19 restrictions will be eased.

However, Gauselmann (pictured) has written to the Prime Minister, as well as Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, and Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng, to outline his concerns over the plans.

Gauselmann called for a review of the decision, setting out his “disappointment and regret” that adult gaming centres will not be able to reopen alongside other non-essential retail next month, saying the two venues are similar in terms of size and customer turnover.

The Gauselmann Group operates the Cashino chain of adult gaming centres in the UK through its Merkur division. There are 174 Cashino locations in the country.

“Our venues attract comparably small numbers of customers who do not stay for long,” Gauselmann said. “For this reason, we cannot understand the decision which permits betting shops to open even though they operate the same gaming machines. 

“This puts us at a great competitive disadvantage and we fear a long-term loss of loyal customers as a result.”

Gauselmann added that any further delay in reopening could harm any planned future investment by the Gauselmann Group.

“I am very concerned about the stress this recent decision places on our business and whether we can continue to invest as we had planned,” Gauselmann said.

“We appreciate the government has to make very difficult decisions, but cannot see why, in terms of infection protection, entirely unproblematic businesses should be prevented from opening.” 

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