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BGC welcomes planned reopening of casinos in England

14th August 2020 8:27 am GMT
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Britain’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the government’s decision to belatedly open casinos in England, while warning that the ongoing closure of casinos in Wales and Scotland poses a risk to jobs.

Casinos in England were originally scheduled to reopen under strict new health and safety protocols on 1 August but an abrupt u-turn by government saw this date postponed indefinitely at a cost of millions of pounds for the industry.

Casinos in Scotland are expected to be allowed to reopen at the end of August, while Welsh authorities are yet to set a date.

“This belated good news will come as a welcome relief to the 12,000 people employed in the casino sector in England. We regret that it has taken so long for staff to return to work - long after all manner of venues and activities, that don’t have anything like the anti-covid measures you will see in any casino, were reopened,” said Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC.

“Given casinos had been cleared by Public Health England as safe to reopen and given we had the strong support of DCMS, who have been steadfast throughout, it was lamentable that our safe businesses had to suffer considerable hurt and expense with a further pointless two week delay.”

“Casinos are not yet out of the woods though,” Dugher warned. “The last five months has left many casinos on the brink and the next few months will be particularly crucial to their recovery as the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector slowly gets back on its feet.

“This sector can play an important part in our national economic recovery and I hope ministers will continue to work closely with the industry to provide support through this difficult period. In return, casinos will continue to play their part in helping to revive our city centres and night-time economy, as well as supporting the country through the £1 billion economic contribution it makes in direct and indirect Gross Value Added.”

To support the recovery, the BGC has called for an extension of the furlough scheme to help offset the £14 million cost to the industry caused by the Government’s earlier u-turn.

“We hope that the Scottish Government will be true to its stated commitment about helping businesses, and allow casinos in Scotland to reopen as scheduled on 24th August. Casinos have invested heavily in new Covid safeguards,” added Dugher. “There can be no justification for further delaying their opening. We continue to urge the Welsh Government to fully engage with the sector and seek the reassurances we can provide to bring about the safe reopening of casinos in Wales.”

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