Scottish casinos blast “unfair” reopening schedule

Casinos in Scotland must wait longer than other hospitality venues to reopen.
Casinos in Scotland must wait longer than other hospitality venues to reopen.

Casinos in Scotland have criticised the government’s decision to make them wait longer than other hospitality venues to reopen after lockdown.

UK.- Casinos have blasted the Scottish government’s decision to make them wait longer than other hospitality venues to reopen after lockdown.

In England, casinos will be allowed to reopen at the same time as pubs and restaurants, with the earliest possible date set for May 17.

However, north of the border, the Scottish government has decided that casinos will have to wait until the next stage of reopening.

Scotland intends to revert back to a system of alert levels in different areas. Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen in areas that have fallen to level of alert 3, while casinos will have to wait until level 2.

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Casino operators have heavily criticised the decision after a report from hygiene expert Dr Lisa Acklerley found there was “no logical or scientific reason” for the distinction.

Ackerley examined venues including Grosvenor Casino locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow and found them to be safer than hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants.

She said: “The casino industry has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by embracing the need to implement a full range of stringent measures to keep staff and customers safe.

“In my opinion, this industry’s response has resulted in it being as safe, if not safer, during the pandemic than many others, for example some other parts of the hospitality sector, where socialising and alcohol consumption is the norm.

“I find that there is no reason for the casino industry to be treated more harshly in terms of lockdown measures than the rest of hospitality; in fact, it can be seen that the measures taken by casinos actually offer more protection to staff and the public. 

“There seems no logical or scientific reason why the casino industry should be closed where pubs and restaurants are allowed to open in Scotland.”

“Casinos have been treated unfairly”

Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Grosvenor Casinos, called on the Scottish government to amend its reopening plans to recognise the findings. 

He said: “Dr Ackerley’s findings provide objective, scientific evidence that casinos have been treated unfairly and the time has come for the correction to be made.

“It clearly concludes that forcing casinos to remain closed whilst other hospitality businesses can open, is absurd.

“We’re now appealing to the First Minister and the Scottish government to pay heed to this compelling evidence. When parts of the country return to level 2 status, casinos must be allowed to open and the industry deserves to be treated with parity and fairness

“All we ask is for an equitable approach to hospitality, based on the highest quality evidence that exists.”

The Betting and Gaming Council also criticised the decision. 

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “Ordering the closure of casinos in level 2 areas in Scotland was a needless blow for the 700 hardworking men and women that they employ.

“Despite repeated invitations, it is regrettable that no Scottish Government official has even visited any of our members’ casinos to see for themselves the excellent anti-Covid measures which they have put in place.”

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