Not on the list
The exclusion of casinos from the UK government’s latest list of hospitality and leisure venues allowed to reopen on July 4 has caused some backlash from the gambling industry.
casinos, swimming pools, indoor gyms, and nightclubs must remain closed
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new plans on Tuesday afternoon in the House of Commons. Cinemas, pubs, and hairdressers will be able to resume business on July 4, provided there is a one-meter plus social distancing policy in place. Other establishments such as casinos, swimming pools, indoor gyms, and nightclubs must remain closed. No details were given as to when they can restart operations.
Johnson labeled July 4 “a new Independence Day” as the country begins to ease lockdown restrictions. To date, there have been over 306,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK, resulting in 42,927 deaths.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the industry group for gambling operators in the UK, reacted quickly to the government’s latest announcement. In a statement issued shortly after the news, it described the decision to keep casinos closed as “inconsistent and nonsensical”.
decision to keep casinos closed as “inconsistent and nonsensical”
The BGC highlighted that all casinos in the UK have been following the public health and safety protocols advised by the government to make sure they are “COVID-proof” upon reopening. Gambling establishments have all been shuttered since March 23.
The BGC said of these efforts: “Casino operators have worked round the clock to ensure their premises, and the way they operate, adhere to the Government’s strict anti-Covid guidelines.”
Casino operators are looking to initiate dialogue with the UK government to understand what issues still need addressing before their properties can reopen as soon as possible. The BGC has asked for immediate clarification from the government on the matter. It also remarked that there are 14,000 people employed in the sector, and that annual gambling tax revenue is about £300m ($374.5m).
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher observed that “casinos are being forced to remain closed when other parts of the hospitality and leisure industry are opening up again.” The council had previously announced that UK casinos would be able to reopen from July 4.