U.K. Casinos, Sportsbooks Prepare to Open
Casinos in the U.K. are set to open July 4 so long as measures to control coronavirus exposure meet government standards. But Genting Casinos (Newcastle Upon Tyne location above) may close three locations and lay off workers at others as cost-cutting measures.
July 4 isn’t a holiday in the U.K., but it could be a special day for England’s land-based casinos if their anti-coronavirus standards pass muster.
Every casino in the country has been closed since the lockdown began on March 23, part of the national effort to combat the spread of Covid-19.
The government said last month that hospitality and leisure facilities including casinos could reopen July 4 in the third and final phase of its plans to ease restrictions established to tackle the virus, according to CDC Gaming Reports.
Casinos must practice stringent hygiene and social distancing measures, provide hand sanitizers for guests before they enter and join or leave a gaming table. Entry to casinos will be limited to one person at a time, table capacity limits will be enforced, and masks will be made available to customers on request. Gaming machines will be cleaned after each session and ATMs sanitized at least once an hour. Plexiglas screens may be used as separators.
The casino sector contributes more than £300 million (US$382.5 million) a year to the U.K. Exchequer and employs nearly 13,000 people.
Michael Dugher, the Betting and Gaming Council’s (BGC) chief executive, said, “Nothing is more important to the casino sector than the safety of staff and customers. I know that the casino operators have been working tirelessly to ensure that when they do re-open for business again, every possible measure will be in place…for the health and safety of everyone who enters the premises.
“We know that the casino sector faces some very tough times ahead and the threat posed by Covid-19 to many businesses won’t go away quickly. That’s why we would also urge the government to continue to be flexible in their approach,” Dugher said.
Gambling firm Genting Casino may close three locations, with employee reduction throughout the remaining 29 sites across the U.K., union bosses say. The company wrote to workers, detailing its plans to deal with the impact of closured resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Casinos targeted for possible closure include those in Torquay, Bristol and possibly Margate.
Genting has consulted nationally with the GMB Union over the potential reductions. A statement sent by Chief Executive Paul Willcock to employees said: “The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges” resulting in a “huge financial impact on our business and…significant uncertainty for the foreseeable future. I am therefore forced to contemplate some very difficult options to ensure survival.”
Matt Roberts, GMB Union South West regional organizer, said the union will explore every possible approach to retain jobs, according to Business Live.
“The casinos, like other leisure venues, have done their duty and complied with the lockdown, following the prime minister’s instructions and utilizing the government’s furlough scheme. If the government wants this country to retain a leisure and hospitality industry, we need to see support measures continue, in some form, that we can gradually wean the businesses off as the situation hopefully improves over the next year or so,” he said. “Otherwise there will be very little hospitality and leisure businesses left for the public to go back to.”