Today marks the beginning of England's second COVID-19 lockdown. This comes into effect as Wales draws near the end of a two-week ‘firebreak’ lockdown and Scotland implements a new five-level system for regional regulations. This means there will be differing regulations in place across the nation, and businesses will be facing closures in some parts of Great Britain. So, where do casinos stand?
On the 9th November, Wales is expected to come to the end of the ‘firebreak’ lockdown that began on the 23rd October. This lockdown applied to everyone living in Wales, replacing existing local restrictions.
This country-wide lockdown had the same rules as the lockdown experienced by the whole of the UK earlier this year, with pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops and entertainment venues such as betting shops and casinos closing.
The BGC called for more support for the country’s gambling industry, since Welsh casinos closed mid-March and did not reopen until 29th August. Affected by the closures are 366 betting shops and 3 casinos, with 2,000 employees between them, the BGC said via Twitter.
While all non-essential businesses are expected to reopen at the end of this so-called ‘firebreak’ it would not be surprising for there to be a “two-week buffer period” brought in, with the phased reopening of the hospitality industry. But, as of yet, Welsh casinos look ready to start welcoming players in again from the 9th.
From today, the 5th November, England will enter a four-week lockdown, lasting up until the 2nd December. This means that all non-essential businesses, including casinos and betting shops, will be closed until this date, if not longer. The Government has already warned that the lockdown could be extended beyond this date if there are no changes to the rate of infection.
The new measures will apply nationally, replacing regional restrictions. At the end of the national lockdown, regional regulations will come back into place.
Casinos only reopened their doors to the public on the 15th August but are expected to be able to reopen at the end of the lockdown, though this is not the case for all regions. The top tier of the three-tier system will see casinos and other non-essential businesses remaining shut.
Previously, the BGC called for casinos to remain open past the 10pm curfew, offering to stop the sale of alcohol on premises to curtail the new curfew measure brought in which prohibited pubs from being open past 10pm.
Michael Dugher, the chief executive of the BGC, said “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."
Scotland introduced a new five-level system for regional regulations on the 9th October, which meant the closure of casinos from the 10th October. As of yet, no area has been moved to the highest level of alert but the central belt and other major cities have been placed into Level 3. But what does this mean?
In areas of low risk, Level 1, casinos would be allowed to reopen for business. Level 2 sees bingo halls allowed to operate while casinos face closure. Level 3, currently the highest level in use in Scotland means that both bingo halls and casinos will once again shut their doors.
However, UK casino leaders have warned that these closures put “hundreds of Scottish jobs at risk.” Bosses have urged Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister, to remove casinos from Level 2 restrictions and are seeking parity with pubs.
The casino bosses have also pointed to £30m a year in tax payments that come under threat should casinos have to close for business indefinitely. John O’Reilly, chief executive of Rank Group Plc stated that “In our five Scottish casinos, we have ID scanning technology which captures the data of every customer entering our venues.”
“Thus far, across the UK, we have had over 400,000 customer visits from over 135,000 customers and we are aware of just two cases of customers having been positively tested for the coronavirus, neither of which have been in Scotland.”
He questioned “Our venues are indisputably COVID-secure. Why must they therefore close in Level 2 whilst other hospitality industries can remain open?”
Casinos have made huge efforts to ensure the safety of their establishments, and this is to be commended. However, we feel it is still sensible for casinos to face the same closures across the nation as other businesses, in the continued fight against the novel coronavirus.
While we have not seen huge numbers of positive cases attributed to casinos, moving forward and into lockdown we must all play our part - this means casinos taking a hit to their land based revenue. After all, there are always online casino sites to play at.
Hannah has written news articles and lifestyle blogs for three years. Venturing into the gambling industry Hannah is writing gambling content for Online Bingo and has written content for Lodgis Paris.
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