The UK government will allow casinos in England to reopen from 1 August, with industry body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is now calling on Wales and Scotland to follow suit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement as he set out plans for a further easing of lockdown in England this morning (17 July).
The move was hailed by the BGC, which has lobbied hard for the venues to be permitted to open in July, by highlighting casinos’ economic contributions, the jobs they provide and the measures taken by operators to ensure customers and staff are kept safe.
The venues have been closed for over four months, from 20 May, as a result of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and remained shuttered despite other land-based gambling outlets such as betting shops (15 June) and bingo halls (4 July) being allowed to welcome back customers.
“After four long months of lockdown, it’s fantastic to see casinos will reopen safely for business again on 1 August,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said. “I am delighted that they can now play their part in supporting the recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector.
“BGC casino members went the extra mile to meet strict Covid guidelines some weeks ago but were left in the dark as to when they would be allowed to reopen,” he continued. “I’d like to thank DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, Minister Nigel Hiddleston and the many cross-party MPs who supported us and worked hard to secure a reopening date.”
While the confirmation of a reopening date will see many of the 12,000 people employed by the venues across England return to work, it remains uncertain when casinos in Wales and Scotland will be allowed to reopen.
Dugher therefore called on the government of each country to announce their plans for the venues, noting that the continued closures left around 2,000 employees unable to work.
“The uncertainty has been awful for the 12,000 people who work in casinos in England and we now call on Scottish and Welsh governments to follow suit and permit casinos to reopen without delay,” he said.
“The devolved administrations owe it to the 2,000 employees who work in Scottish and Welsh casinos to end this uncertainty and help them return to work.”
Earlier this week one of the UK’s largest land-based casino operators, Genting UK, announced that as many as 1,642 staff faced redundancy as a result of the upheaval caused by Covid-19. While the operator said it would do everything it could to reduce this number, it blamed the uncertainty caused by a lack of a firm reopening date and subsequent changes to its operating model for the planned layoffs.