Could casinos avoid the 10pm curfew by not selling alcohol?

  • Updated
  • By Hannah Timoney
BGC alcohol ban

As lockdown restrictions tighten once again in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus, hospitality venues face the risk of closure once again, just two months after casinos opened their doors again back in August

The government enforced new rules on the 24th September which said pub doors were to close by 10pm every night, and yet stricter measures are now to be put in place in areas where the coronavirus rate is higher. These stricter measures include the closure of pubs and other hospitality venues altogether, with these rules applying to casinos.

This is part of the PM Boris Johnson's ‘three-tier system’ of local lockdowns, in which hospitality venues including casinos could be forced to close completely in areas where infection rates are highest. 

The chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has responded by way of a letter to UK MPs, in which he offers to stop selling alcohol at casinos around the country in an effort to remain open, as venues serving alcohol appear to be the most at risk of having to shut their doors.

Dugher's letter makes the claim that enforced casino closures would be “catastrophic” for the industry and lead to thousands of job losses and the BGC argued that the closure of casinos would be “disastrous for a sector already reeling from the effects of the first lockdown earlier this year,” despite the industry showing promise of bouncing back

Dugher argues that the move would be unfair and be based on “no public health ground” as he says casinos have already proved they can operate safely in line with new Covid-19 guidelines.

“Casinos have already proved, thanks to their world class track and trace systems, the use of Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and strict social distancing rules, that they are Covid-secure according to Public Health England,” Dugher said.

He added that "Ministers need to understand that casinos are not pseudo-nightclubs or places where young people go to drink,” and continues to say “Nevertheless, they are willing to reduce their risk levels even further by refusing to serve alcohol, which the Government seems to think is another factor in the spread of the virus."

While the online gambling sector showed growth during the first lockdown, the increase in online profits did nothing to offset land-based losses, so the BGC argues the closure of land-based venues will put thousands of jobs on the line again in an already difficult economic climate.

The news from the government follows Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that Scotland would, for a 16-day period,  restrict all licensed indoor hospitality venues from opening after 6pm, and all licensed premises and casinos in five areas, including the most populous cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, would be required to close completely.