BGC Slams Additional Lockdown Levy On NE England

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has slammed the additional lockdown levied on North East England, warning that the restrictions would inevitably result in casino industry job losses.

Following a recent increase in coronavirus cases across the country, Matt Hancock, Health Secretary announced the enforcement of a “regional lockdown” that will see leisure and entertainment venues, such as casinos, closed between 10 pm and 5 am.

The limits, which will be checked monthly, also mean that restaurants will only be able to provide table service, and between the specified periods restaurants, bars and pubs will have to close.

Nearly two million people are now prohibited from socialising outside their household or service bubble with individuals, as well as being encouraged to use only public transport for important purposes.

One Betting and Gaming Council spokesperson said: “This is a hugely disappointing and illogical decision which will inevitably lead to job losses in the casino sector.

“While we fully support the need to act quickly to protect public health, the simple fact is that casinos are among the most Covid-secure in the country, so ordering their closure as a way of slowing the spread of the virus makes no sense.”

On August 15, casinos in England were able to reopen their doors, with their reopening postponed by two weeks following the Conservative government’s ‘last minute u-turn’.

According to the BGC, this delay cost the sector over £ 14 million to hold places under lockdown for a six-month span. The industry standards body cautioned at the time that the next few months would be ‘crucial to their recovery,’ with ‘not out of the woods’ English casinos.

In a statement the BGC added: “Just last month, casinos in England were given the go-ahead by public health experts to re-open after they saw for themselves the anti-Covid measures they had put in place – from Perspex screens to best-in-class track and trace systems.

“What’s more, most casino customers are on their own or in couples, making it easier to maintain social distancing in venues.

“And with casinos doing between 50 and 70 per cent of their trade between 10pm and 5am, they will be disproportionately harmed by the Government’s decision, meaning some may never be able to open their doors again. We would urge ministers to urgently reconsider this catastrophic and retrograde move.”