Yet another delay
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has warned that up to 6,000 jobs could be at risk after the UK government pushed back the reopening date for casinos in England at the last minute. The BGC, an industry association that represents casinos and sportsbooks across the region, called the latest delay “deeply damaging.”
The Government are swinging a wrecking ball right through the middle of our industry”
BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “The Government are swinging a wrecking ball right through the middle of our industry and large scale job losses, which ought to be unnecessary and avoidable, now look inevitable unless ministers act fast.”
Casinos across the country were ready to reopen their doors on August 1. However, the UK government announced on July 31 that casinos would have to stay closed until August 15 at the earliest. In response, the BGC sent a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP, describing the decision as being “highly illogical, inconsistent and deeply damaging to those businesses and the thousands of staff they employ.”
Costs are mounting
According to the BGC, it cost about £6m ($7.8m) in total for the casino sector to get ready to reopen on August 1. These costs included security, training, and taking staff off furlough.
Permanent job losses are now a reality, and Dugher says that the ongoing cost of not reopening is not sustainable. Genting Casino, which currently employs more than 4,000 people in the UK, has said that job losses are “simply unavoidable”.
Rank Group, the owner of Grosvenor Casinos, currently employs more than 4,600 people in the region and has tough decisions to make in the coming weeks. The Chancellor is winding down furlough payments and is requiring employers to pay pension contributions and National Insurance on top of salaries in August, even though these properties remain closed.
COVID-19 on the rise again
The BGC also rejected the idea from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson that casinos are “higher risk” businesses. Millions of pounds have been spent to make sure that the casinos are as safe as possible, the group said, with extensive social distancing, sanitization, and track and trace protocols ready to be implemented upon reopening.
Cases in the UK have been rising recently
Prime Minister Johnson said that delaying the reopening of certain venues such as casinos and implementing new restrictions on social gatherings are needed to “avoid a return to full national lockdown.” Cases in the UK have been rising recently, causing concern.
It was also announced last week that casinos in Scotland are set to reopen on August 24, provided coronavirus cases remain low. There has been no indication as to when casinos in Wales will be able to reopen.