BGC: let casinos and bookmakers open with stricter measures

Casinos and bookmakers in England hope to reopen when the latest lockdown ends on December 2.
Casinos and bookmakers in England hope to reopen when the latest lockdown ends on December 2.

The industry group says members are prepared to introduce tighter Covid-19 measures if they can avoid closures.

UK.- The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) says its members are prepared to introduce tighter measures in a bid to avoid continued closures once England’s current lockdown ends on December 3.

All casinos and betting shops in England have been closed since November 5 under a second national lockdown that aims to control the escalation of Covid-19 cases. 

Venues in some areas, including Manchester and Liverpool, had already been forced to close prior to that because of the country’s three-tier system of measures that requires many businesses to close in regions with the most cases.

The BGC has been seeking assurances from the government that all gaming venues will be able to reopen again from December 3, but that seems unlikely if the government continues with the tiered system under which areas that are placed in tier 3 are likely to see restrictions extended.

Members of the industry group have now said that they are proposing the introduction of a range of tighter restrictions if they are granted permission to open under tier 3 restrictions. 

Under the proposals, casinos would not offer live games like table roulette, blackjack and poker and would limit capacity to 25 per cent. 

Casinos have also repeated their offer to halt alcohol sales altogether if they are allowed to open beyond the previous 10pm curfew.

Betting shops, meanwhile, would also introduce capacity limits and limits on the length of time customers can remain on the premises. They would also close food vending.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher outlined the proposals in letters to Health Minister Matt Hancock and Cabinet Minister Michael Gove.

He said: “The impacts of the pandemic are already being felt by the casinos 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 £15m 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.”

It’s the latest in a series of continual proposals the industry has made in a bid to avoid closures during the pandemic. So far, its proposals have not been considered by the government.

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