Casinos in England will be able to reopen from 15th August, the UK government has confirmed.
Venues were supposed to open at the beginning of this month, but plans for this were put on hold by a rise in COVID-19 cases across certain parts of the country.
English casinos have been closed since 20th March, which was at the beginning of the country-wide lockdown.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the government’s decision, but warns that the sector still has work to do after almost five months without business.
“The next few months will be particularly crucial”
In an article published on its website, the BGC referred to the reopening of casinos in England as “belated” and a “welcome relief”. It also noted that the delay from the planned reopening on 1st August “cost them [casinos] millions of pounds in setup costs”.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher said:
“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. 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.”
Furlough scheme extension requested
Earlier this week, the BGC urged the country’s government to extend the furlough scheme for casino employees. The council believes that the late decision not to open casinos at the beginning of this month cost the industry £14 million that they would have earned from being open for these two weeks.
The BGC also warned at the time that “up to 6,000 jobs” could have been lost, had the government continued to delay the reopening of casinos. Moreover, it mentioned that iconic venues – such as London’s Hippodrome Casino – were struggling as a result of remaining shut.
Casinos in Scotland to open soon
In Scotland and Wales, casinos will remain closed beyond this weekend. However, as things stand, casinos in Scotland should be able to reopen from 24th August.
Dugher also commented on the situation north of the border, as well as in Wales.
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.
“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.”