Covid-19 Variant Concerns Peak in UK and Canada

Omicron variant

As Covid-19 variants like Omicron take hold, casinos in Canada and the UK face issues once again.

They say history repeats itself, but we hope in certain circumstances that it doesn’t, like with the COVID-19 pandemic. When the virus began in early 2020, the entire world was affected in a number of ways. For the casino industry, venues were shut down and reopened with restrictions in place. Continual closures and the threat of the virus lead to lower revenues and job loss. In 2021, it seemed that the virus was slowing down, but now with new variants like Omicron, will gambling facilities shut down once again? In Canada and the United Kingdom, the threat of closure is very real.

Quebec Shuts Down Casinos

Officials in Quebec, Canada are wasting no time in dealing with Omicron by shutting down facilities like casinos, gyms, and bars. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube reported that 4,500 new cases of the virus were found in one day and says there will be more in the future.

People living in Quebec are encouraged to lower contact with others as Christmas and New Years approaches. The new closures took effect on December 20, at 5pm and will continue until January for many types of facilities.

If the trend in positive cases rise, we could see the closures taking place for longer periods of time. It is unclear just how the region will be affected but any business such as casinos that are closed will suffer revenue losses.

BGC Calls for Reassurances for Casino Operators

As COVID continues to hit the United Kingdom, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) have asked government officials to provide reassurances that casinos will be supported if further restrictions are put in place. Michael Dugher, the Chief Executive of the Council call casinos an integral part of the hospitality industry and he wants to guarantee that a support package will be included with any restrictions that may occur in the future.

Dugher pointed out that after 18 months, the venues were starting to recover from impositions such as travel bans and closures. Operators are now concerned that they will be back to square one as Christmas and New Year impacts the recovery process.

Lockdown restrictions have not been ordered but public health experts want to see people avoiding contact with others unless it is absolutely necessary. There is a fear that the hospitality industry will be affected including casinos.

The BGC pointed out further that casinos contribute to the employment of the UK as well as monetary support. As much as $799 million in taxes are generated each year along with over 11,000 people being employed within gambling venues.

The operators just want to be reassured by government officials that they will be provided help if the need arises. Government support will get the businesses by until things get back to normal. It is unclear if any monetary help will be provided if restrictions are implemented once again.

With these two countries worrying about COVID-19 concerns connected to casino gaming it begs the question if other regions should be worried as well. If the new Omicron variant or another variation of the virus comes about, will we be back to square one in the United States and other countries?

Most people have become very lax when it comes to the virus, especially in the United States. People are vaccinated but that doesn’t provide full protection. It will be interesting to see if Omicron is able to sweep through the US and just how big of an impact it will have. It doesn’t seem closures are imminent again, but it could be that people are less willing to travel which would impact the gambling industry as a whole worldwide.

Associate Writer: Geoff enjoys both live and online poker as well as casino games, and is particularly knowledgeable about the legal landscape of online gambling.