The UK government has set August 1st as the date for the UK casinos to reopen. The decision was welcomed by the BGC (Betting and Gaming Council) industry association. He had advocated the reopening vehemently in advance. Wales and Scotland are also urged to follow England’s example. What developments can be expected?
After more than three months in lockdown, the English casinos will be allowed to reopen in August, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision last week. The move was a long time coming and was therefore welcomed by the BGC. The industrial association, established in 2019, also focused on the economic contributions of the casinos, including the jobs they provide.
In the run-up to the event, the new gaming association had strongly advocated that the arcades that were closed on May 20 may reopen in July. It was criticized that the casinos had to remain closed longer, although other land-based gambling establishments, for example betting shops (June 15) and bingo halls (July 4), were allowed to receive customers again.
According to BGC boss Michael Dugher, it is fantastic to see that the casinos can reopen their doors on August 1st. In this way, the recovery of the tourism sector and the hospitality industry could be significantly supported. Over 12,000 casino employees from across England can now return to their jobs.
To this end, Daugher sent personal thanks to DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State Nigel Hiddleston and many of the bipartisan MPs who helped set a definitive reopening date. The BGC casinos would have done everything within the lockdown to meet the strict Covid-19 protection requirements, but were left in the dark for too long about when they could reopen.
Dugher also urged Wales and Scotland to follow England’s example without delay. In these countries, more than 2,000 other employees are currently left in the dark about when it will reopen. The employees are currently unable to work. For the 12,000 people who work in casinos in England, this uncertainty was difficult to bear.
The Welsh and Scottish authorities, Dugher said, owe it to the casino’s 2,000 employees to end insecurity and help them get back to work. For this, similar Covid-19 protection programs would have to be introduced in the establishments as in England.
The example of the market giant Genting UK, which announced at the beginning of last week that it would lay off up to 1,642 employees in order to withstand the corona-related upheaval, shows that the uncertainty is justified. The operator said it would do everything possible to reduce this number, but the lack of a fixed reopening date made for bleak forecasts. The lack of an official Covid-19 protective framework also causes uncertainty.
As already indicated, the BGC has long been urging the British government to set a precise date for the reopening. The gradual return of English professional sport further fueled the debate. In the meantime, the gambling association has done everything possible to protect its member companies and their employees from economic damage and layoffs.
Dugher feared that further delays could cause lasting damage to the sector. For this reason, the BGC, which includes William Hill, Flutter Entertainment, GVC Holdings, Rank Group and Playtech, sent an open letter to the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. It stated that the lockdown is costing the government around £ 5 million each week from the land-based casino sector alone.
It was also noted that casinos paid an average of £ 5.7m in tax charges in 2019. One is therefore disappointed that the casino sector was not one of the industries that were allowed to reopen on July 4th. Casinos want to get back into business and contribute to the economy without costing the Treasury Department money, according to the BGC’s credo.
CEO Dugher, meanwhile, also stated his belief that casinos are ready to receive employees and customers safely after a number of contagion protection measures have been put in place. This includes the installation of plexiglass screens and disinfection
ion equipment, as well as the establishment of track and trace systems and compliance with social distancing regulations.
On a financial level, the government has asked for VAT and income tax payments to be postponed. In addition, a relief package on statutory sick pay for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as a 12-month vacation at business tariffs for all retail, restaurant and leisure establishments in England, which also includes the casinos.
According to Dugher, the cost of staying on a reopening queue is much higher as it means keeping businesses in a state of readiness, including maintaining the reopening premises, cleaning, restocking supplies and staffing . With the announcement, the light can finally be seen again at the end of the tunnel.