On Friday July 31st, Boris Johnson announced a delay in the planned reopening of casinos for August 1st (the very next day, calendar fans), by at least two weeks. The Betting and Gaming Council has responded, warning the government that industry jobs are at risk of taking a huge hit.
Michael Dugher, the chief executive of the BGC, wrote to Rishi Sunak, the UK’s finance minister, to express his “utter dismay” at the government U-turn, just one day before they were set to open. The cost of preparing to reopen is estimated to have cost £6m, which has now gone to waste. This isn't the first time Dugher has spoken out, as the government has ignored the BGC's requests to reopen casinos back in June and July.
Why did preparing to reopen casinos cost £6m? Well, taking staff members off of furlough and training them in the safety guidelines necessary to ensure staff and players are able to socially distance, keep sanitary and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. In order to run, casinos also require security and offer food and beverages, all of which has had to be cancelled at the last minute.
Dugher has also said that 6,000 of the industry's 14,000 jobs could be permanently at risk due to the change, as the industry is unable to sustain the £5m that the casinos being closed loses every week, especially after putting so much money into reopening. When running normally, the casino industry pays more than £5.7m in taxes on a weekly basis, which would be reduced significantly.
"The government are swinging a wrecking ball right through the middle of our industry and large scale job losses, which ought to be unnecessary and avoidable, now look inevitable unless ministers act fast," Dugher said.
He continues, “The ongoing cost of remaining in a holding pattern to reopen is clearly not sustainable, with more jobs and livelihoods being put at risk with every last minute change and delay to reopening.”
Gamblers will have to stick to online casino sites to play their favourite slot games and casino table games as currently the earliest casinos in the UK can open is August 15th, though that could still be pushed back as the government formulates new plans in the coming weeks.