The Betting and Gaming Council has announced that England’s land-based casinos will be ready to re-open their doors for business again from 4 July 2020, “abiding by strict anti-Covid standards”.
The BGC’s announcement states as follows:
Every casino in the country has been closed since the lockdown began on 23 March as part of the national effort to combat the spread of Covid-19.
The Government confirmed last month that hospitality and leisure facilities, such as casinos, may be able to open from 4 July as part of the third and final phase of its plans to ease the restrictions brought in to tackle the virus.
Casino operators have today confirmed that they are prepared to reopen for business again from that date.
Stringent hygiene and social distancing measures will be put in place at all casinos to ensure the safety of staff and customers alike.
This will include customers using hand sanitisers before entering the casino, as well as when joining and leaving a gaming table.
Entry to casinos will also be limited to one person at a time, with two-metre social distancing enforced in any queues outside.
Table capacity limits will be enforced to reduce the risk of infection, while face coverings will be made available to customers on request.
Floor layouts are designed to ensure social distancing at all times, gaming machines will be cleaned after each play session and ATMs will be sanitised at least once an hour.
Plexiglass screens may also be used where necessary to maintain social distancing and protect staff and customers.
Trained staff will also be on hand to promote safer gambling for customers returning to venues.
All casinos that open will observe the latest Government social distancing rules. However, for some in the high-end casino sector the relaxation of social distancing measures are not enough to enable them to return to business. With the vast majority of their customers being overseas tourists, travel restrictions will need to ease before there is any prospect of their doors reopening.
The casino sector contributes more than £300m a year to the UK Exchequer and employs nearly 13,000 people.
Michael Dugher, the BGC’s chief executive, is quoted as saying:
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 reopen for business again, every possible measure will be in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone who enters the premises – from the availability of hand sanitisers and protective equipment to adherence to the latest Government current social distancing rules.
Casinos make a significant contribution to the economy, including through taxation and employment, as part of the leisure, hospitality, entertainment and tourism sectors. They have also played a hugely important role, not just in the national effort to combat covid-19 by keeping their doors shut since March, but also through their support for communities – for example with the provision of food from their kitchens and the use of their venues.
It is welcome that they are in line to reopen again from 4 July, but the message to government now is that they are ready, willing and able to open safely.
We know that the casino sector faces some very tough times ahead and the threat posed by Covid 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 to the hospitality and leisure industry as its furlough scheme is wound down. Even though they will be ready to open their doors on 4 July, casinos will still be forced to operate at a reduced capacity for some time to come because of the need to maintain social distancing. We would urge the Chancellor to keep being flexible and continue providing support as the country emerges from the pandemic.
As previously reported by us here, it is presently anticipated that betting shops and arcades (together with other “non-essential” retail outlets) are expected to be able to reopen from 15 June 2020 if the Government’s “five tests” to ease the current coronavirus lockdown are met and the operators of such businesses follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines.
- We have subsequently reported publication by the Betting and Gaming Council of “Non-Remote Casinos – Compliance with Covid-19 Secure Guidelines”.
- Wholly unexpectedly, on 23 June 2020 it became clear from a Prime Ministerial Statement to the House of Commons on COVID-19 that English casinos are not to be permitted to re-open on 4 July 2020, as reported by us here.