BGC blasts U-turn on casino reopenings

UK casinos had expected to be able to reopen from July 4.
UK casinos had expected to be able to reopen from July 4.

UK trade organisation the Betting and Gaming Council has criticised the decision to keep casinos shut as other leisure businesses reopen.

UK.- The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has fiercely criticised the UK government’s decision to remove casinos and gaming venues from the list of businesses that can reopen from July 4.

The body has blasted the decision as “inconsistent and nonsensical.”

The UK government had previously announced that leisure and hospitality venues would be allowed to reopen from July 4, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now said that while hotels, pubs and restaurants will be permitted to reopen, casinos and gaming halls will not.

Gyms, spas and bowling alleys were also excluded. 

The BGC said casinos had already begun putting safety measures in place to ensure they were ready to reopen on July 4, including redesigning floor layouts to allow maximum physical distancing.

Casinos had already made plans to enhance safety for customers and staff, including limiting capacity and encouraging use of hand sanitiser. 

BGC Chief Executive, Michael Dugher, said: “We welcome the fact that the lockdown is being eased further. The whole country has made sacrifices over the past few months to combat the Coronavirus and it’s good news that the government is determined to get the economy moving again by reopening the likes of pubs, restaurants, cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls, whilst protecting public health.

“But it is inconsistent and frankly nonsensical that casinos are being forced to remain closed, when other parts of the hospitality and leisure industry are opening up again.

“Our casino members make a huge contribution to the economy, sustaining thousands of jobs and providing large amounts of much-needed tax revenue to the Treasury.

“Casinos have done everything that they were asked to do by the government and they have pulled out all the stops to ensure they are able to open their doors safely for both staff and customers from 4 July.

“It is therefore extremely disappointing that the government has not yet cleared casinos to reopen. We want to urgently work with ministers to ensure that casinos are reopened safely and as speedily as possible this summer.”

Amusement arcades and adult gaming centres suffered a similar about-turn earlier this month. They were expecting to be able to reopen on June 15, only to be excluded hours beforehand. AGCs will now be able to open on July 4.

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