Casinos in England, Scotland and Wales to Reopen May 17

  • Casinos in Northern Ireland cannot reopen until May 24
  • Most Grosvenor and Genting casinos across the UK will reopen on Monday
  • Mecca Bingo is confident about having a high level of demand upon reopening bingo halls
  • UK casinos have not opened at all in 2021 because of pandemic restrictions
Hippodrome casino London at night
Most casinos in the UK will be able to reopen on Monday for the first time since last November. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Rolling back restrictions

Casinos and bingo halls in England, Scotland, and Wales will finally be able to reopen, getting the green light starting Monday, May 17. Those establishments in Northern Ireland, though, will have to wait until May 24. Scottish casinos will initially have to adhere to a 10:30pm curfew.

These reopenings come as the authorities continue to roll back COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. As part of the latest phase of the general recovery roadmap, indoor entertainment is able to return. In addition to casinos and bingo halls, places like cinemas, museums, and concert halls will be able to welcome guests once again. As part of the previous phase, certain types of non-essential establishments like betting stores reopened, alongside outdoor hospitality. Each nation has slightly different roadmaps and specific restrictions.

the UK vaccine rollout to date has been one of the best in the world

The region as a whole has been dealing with lockdown and extensive restrictions for some time. During the winter, the UK variant of the virus spread rapidly and the health care system was under severe pressure. Fortunately, the UK vaccine rollout to date has been one of the best in the world. New daily case numbers are now at their lowest levels since early September 2020 and a large portion of the population has received at least one vaccine dose.

Big-name operators to open Monday

As casinos reopen across the UK because of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, they will still implement extensive health and safety procedures. Grosvenor Casinos, the region’s largest casino operator, is planning to register every customer at reception before they can enter the casino floor. The operator provided details of its reopening plan for more than 50 of its casinos via Twitter:

Protective screens will be available on electronic machines and gaming tables. Restrictions on the total number of players for certain games will also be in place to make sure that people adhere to social distancing rules. While cash will be acceptable, Grosvenor casinos will encourage people to use contactless payment options when possible. People will also still have to wear masks.

Genting Casinos has announced that 31 of its UK casinos will be reopening from May 17. It will also have extensive safety protocols in place. Four of its properties will remain closed, while one property has yet to confirm an opening date. In June 2020, Genting Group said that it was likely that its Bristol, Torquay, and Margate properties would permanently close due to loss of income. These properties, along with its Southport casino, are now not set to reopen.

Exciting times for bingo operators

Bingo operators have been in the same boat as casinos in the UK in terms of closures. The Rank Group is a big hitter in both sectors. In addition to owning Grosvenor Casinos, it also is the second-biggest operator of land-based bingo halls through the Mecca Bingo brand.

confident that 2021 will be “the year of bingo”

Mecca Bingo’s national operations director John Dyson is confident that 2021 will be “the year of bingo.” He believes that the desire among people to socialize and the large number of individuals who have started playing bingo online during lockdown will lead to people coming out to their local bingo halls in force. The operator has plans to attract a new audience by enhancing the bingo experience in various ways.

A difficult period

UK casinos have been hit hard by the pandemic. They initially had to shut their doors in March 2020 as the pandemic set in on the region. Casinos were subsequently unable to reopen at the same time as many other entertainment businesses.

Eventually, they got the go-ahead to reopen in August 2020, albeit while adhering to a curfew. Towards the end of the year, casinos had to deal with closures once more as restrictions went into effect in certain jurisdictions. Across the UK, no casinos have opened in 2021.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has constantly questioned the government’s policy regarding the treatment of casinos throughout the pandemic. The industry body has continually highlighted the number of jobs and economic stimulus that these establishments provide. About 14,000 people work in the UK’s casino sector.