UK – The Betting and Gaming Council has today stated that its casino and betting shop members that it represents, have voluntarily offered to introduce fresh Covid-19 measures and restrictions in order to be allowed to re-open doors for business following the current national lockdown in England.
Properties situated within English Tier 3 regions were forced to close after 10pm before the announcement of a national lockdown, but chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Counci Michael Dugher has wrote a direct plea to UK Government ministers Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
The plea sets out additional fresh measures and restrictions that retail betting shops and casino venues will implement in order to be allowed to reopen and become more Covid-19 secure.
This news comes after six casino venues in the country have reportedly closed their doors completely this year with staff numbers cut by almost half as businesses continue to struggle to navigate the unprecedented times.
The fresh proposed measures to ensure health and safety is paramount and to reduce the chance of spreading the virus, include stopping live table games completely, including poker, blackjack and roulette, along with reducing capacity within premises by 75%.
In addition, should the proposals be accepted, casinos will also stop selling alcohol to customers and betting shops will limit customer betting time in the shop, along with reduced capacity numbers at the same time and the closing of vending and drink facilities.
A copy of Michael Dugher’s plea to UK Government ministers states:
‘Our members are fully supportive of the Government’s efforts to tackle Covid. That is why betting shops have, in my view, the most stringent anti-Covid measures in place of any other comparable part of the High Street, and why casinos similarly have best-in-class anti-Covid measures compared with any other part of hospitality.’
‘As you can imagine, they are deeply concerned about the huge negative impact that closure of their businesses is having on their staff, customers, suppliers and indeed sport, whilst having a negligible impact on the R rate.’
But, in order to give further reassurance to you and the public that opening these businesses in Tier 3 is possible, our members have offered to introduce further restrictions on for example customer numbers, facilities and products available.
‘The impacts of the pandemic are already being felt by the casino sector.
There have been substantial reductions in employment with one operator having reduced its workforce by over 40 per cent to date. Casino businesses had strong balance sheets at the start of the year, the same is no longer the case with costs during closure amounting to up to £15 million per month for some operators.’
‘I would be extremely grateful if you could give serious consideration to these measures which are proactively offered up by our members to provide further reassurance that they are safe to re-open in Tier 3 areas.
On a personal note, I fully understand the demands that are being made of you in this unprecedented crisis and you have all my support and sympathy. I do hope you and your officials can look kindly at these proposals on behalf of very many businesses and thousands of employees.’
The news of the fresh Covid-19 measures for casinos and betting shops in England comes after the general manager of Scotbet, Bill Stratton, spoke out about its shops still having permission to continue to trade but spoke of the impact on the industry as a whole during Safer Gambling Week 2020.
Stratton stated that the annual event ‘comes at a very unusual time for our sector, with hundreds of betting shops which would otherwise have been playing a full part in it forced to close their doors to help halt the spread of Covid.’