Closed since March
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that casinos in England will be permitted to reopen on August 1 following a period of COVID-19 forced closures.
part of the UK government’s plan to return England “to normality”
The transition is part of the UK government’s plan to return England “to normality” by Christmas. Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Johnson included casinos among the list of “remaining leisure settings” which would be permitted to reopen, along with bowling, skating rinks, and beauticians.
Despite pubs, restaurants, betting shops, and bingo halls all being permitted to reopen in England over the past two months, casinos have been closed since lockdowns began in early March.
Pressure to reopen
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has demonstrated its support for the reopening of casinos since early June, when betting shops were permitted to open their doors. Since then, Johnson announced hospitality and leisure establishments could resume business on July 4 – again excluding casinos.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher had been particularly vocal on the issue
BGC CEO Michael Dugher has been particularly vocal on the issue. He has described the government’s position on casino reopenings as “inconsistent and frankly nonsensical.” Last month, in an open letter to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Dugher warned of “severe damage caused to the casino industry” as a result of the closures.
The BGC has welcomed the decision to allow casinos to open in August. In a statement on its website, the industry group thanked the UK government “on behalf of the 12,000 people in England who work in casinos.” Dugher urged Scottish and Welsh governments to follow suit.
Too late for Genting?
This week, casino company Genting announced it would be cutting up to 1,642 jobs at clubs and hotels across the UK as a result of “unprecedented challenges and heavy losses.”
described the decision as “heart-breaking”
In a company statement, the operator described the decision as “heart-breaking,” but “simply unavoidable.” Staff at 27 of Genting’s UK venues will be affected by the job cuts. The operator previously announced it could shut down three of its UK casinos to mitigate costs, including casinos in Margate, Torquay, and Bristol.
Genting’s financial troubles during the pandemic have not been limited to the UK. Earlier this week, Genting-operated Resorts World Sentosa, a Singapore-based integrated resort, announced it would be laying off staff.
Genting Malaysia has also struggled as a result of COVID-19. The company’s net losses totaled $104.4m for Q1 2020, in comparison to net profit of $58.2m for Q1 2019. Genting’s worldwide revenue declined by 29% year-on-year for Q1 2020, totaling $451m.