UK Casinos Call for Government Help as COVID-19 Measures Change
UK casinos wants help from the government as a new blanket curfew goes into effect, putting the industry at risk of job loss.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced new COVID-19 measures, including a blanket 10pm curfew on businesses. It was expected that the curfew would be enacted, and UK casinos have been trying to avoid it. The Betting and Gaming Council came out in opposition, stating that the curfew would negatively affect casinos, causing a large job loss in the industry. Now leaders of the casino world are speaking out, asking for assistance from the government as the changes made will cause even more harm to the gambling businesses.
Expand Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Rank Group was one of the first companies to speak out, asking the government to expand the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. An expansion of this plan would support businesses that are affected by the newly enacted measures.
To try and avoid the curfew, casinos in London said they would close their bars at 10pm but would like to keep the rest of their venues open. Around 70% of the casinos see the most business after 10pm. The government did not agree and have made the curfew due to young people gathering in large groups to drink and socialize. The casinos tried to point out that they do not serve the younger demographic and would put a stop to any such groups, but the plea seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
The Rank Group called the new measures a ‘crippling blow’ to the gaming industry, a sector that has already lost a large amount of revenues due to the initial coronavirus lockdown. CEO of The Rank Group, John O’Reilly, stated that there is a misconception that the casinos are where young people are gathering to drink at night and that is not true.
The average customer is around 48 years old. O’Reilly pointed out that players are not coming to the casino to drink but are there to play games. Despite this fact, the casinos are caught in the crossfire of the new curfew measure.
The Rank Group is urging the government to work with the industry to create more effective measures to slow the spread of the virus, measures that will not negatively affect the industry.
UK casinos have shown that they are taking the coronavirus pandemic very seriously. Their venues are safe and secure, as the operators impose strict social distancing requirements as well as hygiene standards. They are following the guidance of the public health advisors of the government to keep venues safe for employees and patrons.
According to O’Reilly, Boris Johnson has said he will ensure the casinos can stay open in a compliant way regarding the virus. The only way that they can stay open, based on what O’Reilly said, is to have an economic package for employees who are worried about their future. The furlough scheme needs to be extended to October 31.
The casino sector pays millions in gaming duties and they support thousands of employees. Unless the government does something to help, O’Reilly says that the casinos could disappear for good, which would leave thousands without a job and millions short in tax payments to the government.
When speaking about the new restrictions, Boris Johnson said that they could be in place for six months. If this is the case and a solution is not provided for the gaming sector, there could be major repercussions.
Michael Dugher, the Betting and Gaming Council chief executive said that Johnson might as well have signaled the death of the casino industry by adding them to the list of venues that must close after 10pm.