UK industry standards body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has hit out at the government for its decision to introduce a curfew on casinos in the north-east of England, saying the measures are “illogical” and “make no sense”.
Yesterday (17 September), the government announced that leisure facilities – including casinos – in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and the County Durham must close at 10pm.
Other local lockdown measures include people not being allowed to mix with others outside of their own households or support bubbles, while people are being advised not to socialise with others at public venues.
The decision came amid a significant increase in novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the region, with the government seeking to slow the spread that is now impacting several areas of the UK.
However, the BGC has criticised the measures, in particular the curfew on leisure venues, pointing out that casinos conduct between 50% and 70% of their trade between 10pm and 5am, and as such will be disproportionately harmed by the limitations.
A BGC spokesperson added that such will be this impact that some casinos may never be able to resume trading after the measures are relaxed.
“This is a hugely disappointing and illogical decision which will inevitably lead to job losses in the casino sector,” the spokesperson said. “While we fully support the need to act quickly to protect public health, the simple fact is that casinos are among the most Covid-secure in the country, so ordering their closure as a way of slowing the spread of the virus makes no sense.
“Just last month, casinos in England were given the go-ahead by public health experts to re-open after they saw for themselves the anti-Covid measures they had put in place – from Perspex screens to best-in-class track and trace systems.
“What’s more, most casino customers are on their own or in couples, making it easier to maintain social distancing in venues.”
The body’s latest intervention comes after BGC chief executive Michael Dugher and Genting UK boss Paul Wilcock earlier this week wrote to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to outline their concerns over a mooted 10pm curfew for all UK casinos.
In the letter, Dugher and Wilocak said that the move could potentially lead to “thousands” of the UK’s 14,000 casino employees losing their jobs.
The government is today expected to announce similar local lockdown measures for Lancashire, following an increase in Covid-19 cases across the region.
There are also reports that the government could introduce stricter rules for the whole of England, over fears that the number of people testing positive for Covid-19 could continue to increase.
Yesterday, the UK recorded 3,395 new cases of Covid-19 and 21 related deaths.