Potential 10pm Curfew Could Cause Major Harm to UK Casino Industry
A possible 10pm curfew on businesses could cause UK casinos to lose thousands of jobs.
Around the world, casino operations have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Venues were shut down for weeks and even months, with facilities just now starting to reopen over the past few weeks. Thousands upon thousands of people were without work. Now, as casinos are offering services once again, they are at a limited capacity and have several measures in place to protect patrons and employees from the virus. In the UK, officials are considering a 10pm curfew to try and stop the spread of the virus. The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) are fighting back, saying this type of curfew would be devastating to the industry.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was sent a letter from chief executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher and Paul Wilcock, the Genting UK boss. The two stated that a curfew would have devastating results on the casino industry as around 50 to 70 percent of their trade takes place after that time frame.
Government officials are considering such a curfew in order to stop COVID-19 from spreading. Apparently, young people are crowding bars and other businesses and it is causing transmission of the virus again.
For the casino industry, Dugher and Wilcock feel that if the curfew is put in place, it will force the venues to close their doors. Casinos in Britain employ 14,000 individuals and continues to contribute millions in tax revenues each year. The casino only reopened in August after closing down in March due to a lockdown regarding the virus.
Since reopening, the casinos have been praised for their actions to fight COVID. The venues are limiting capacity as well as installing special screens to promote social distancing throughout the property. They also have track and trace systems to help with any instances of the virus. In July, the Public Health England as well as the Department for Health and Social Care declared the casinos were not a higher risk to patrons.
Carve-Out Should Be Made
In their letter, both Wilcock and Dugher point out the fact that the typical visitor to a casino is 48 years of age. The ministers and councilors of the country are trying to target young adults with their curfew as they have been the group going out and drinking in large groups. The letter also pointed out that young adults do not gather at casinos after the proposed curfew time frame.
Dugher and Wilcock want to see the curfew not imposed on businesses that have shown they are secure when it comes to COVID and do not cater to the age group the measure is targeting. With a blanket measure, the curfew would see thousands of people lose their job and casinos would be forced to close.
The letter is also urging the government make a decision on the current furlough scheme or offer additional help. Right now, the venues are at 5 to 60 percent of their pre-COVID capacity levels. The government either needs to extend the current scheme involving furloughs or introduce more support to help businesses as they try to get back to work.
Dugher pointed out that they are in support of acting quickly regarding public health and they have appreciated the support from the government regarding casinos in the UK. However, the curfew would be ‘catastrophic’ and force the casinos to close once again and this time they will not be able to reopen.
The goal of the letter is to hopefully see any new social distance measures focused on problem areas or age groups rather than just applied across the board. Only time will tell if the letter will help the casino industry avoid such a curfew.