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UK casinos and bingo halls reopen as Covid-19 restrictions eased

| By Robert Fletcher
Land-based casinos and bingo halls across the UK will be permitted to reopen from today (17 May) as the government moved to the next phase of its exit from novel coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown.
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Casinos and bingo halls, as well as adult gaming entertainment centres, have been closed in all areas of the UK since the government announced a third national lockdown in January in England, with governments in Scotland and Wales following suit soon after.

However, despite concerns over a new Indian variant of Covid-19 that has led to a rise in cases in several areas of the UK in the past week, the government has pushed ahead with its phased reopening plan.

Alongside casinos, bingo halls and adult gaming entertainment centres, restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen indoors, as will cinemas, hotels, theatres, museums and sports stadiums. 

Certain regulations will remain for customers and staff at casinos, including the ongoing requirement to wear a mask when inside the venue and adhere to social distancing guidelines, while capacity limits will stay in place.

In Scotland, casinos will have to close at 10:30pm every day of the week and will not be able to serve alcohol. In addition, casinos in Glasgow will remain closed for the time being as the city will remain under Level 3 restrictions due to a recent spike in Covid-19 cases,

The move to phase three of the reopening roadmap comes after betting shops in England were permitted to reopen alongside other non-essential retail last month as part of the government’s “roadmap out of lockdown”. Shops in Scotland and Wales also reopened soon after.

British industry group the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) welcomed the reopening of all remaining gambling venues, with chief executive Michael Dugher describing it as a “fantastic boost” for customers, staff and the UK economy.

“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,” Dugher said

“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.

Certain restrictions on betting shops will also be dropped from today, including a ban on showing live sport on televisions inside the shop, though customers will still need to wear a mask and social distance.

“I am also delighted that the restrictions imposed on betting shops are being lifted,” Dugher said. 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.”

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