Casinos in London have pleaded with Mayor Sadiq Khan to shut down their bars after 10 pm, in an attempt to prevent job losses should a curfew be enforced on leisure venues to curb COVID-19 spread.
Following the Betting and Gaming Council and Genting warning of the ‘catastrophic’ effects to the UK casino sector should a 10 pm curfew be enforced, the bosses of 26 land-based establishments have written to Khan to express similar concerns.
“If London is subjected to a 10pm curfew, most of our casinos will be unviable and some will inevitably close, with the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in the capital as the furlough scheme nears its end,” the letter states
Instead, the chief executives, from the likes of the Hippodrome, the Grosvenor, Caesars, and the Clermont Club, say their venues would avoid selling alcohol after 10 pm, thus resolving concerns that large crowds would gather for drink.
It also states that a casino visitor’s average age is 48, meaning they are extremely unlikely to see youth groups meeting in the early hours.
The letter continues: “By all means address the core issue of drinking rather than slamming a blanket curfew on our venues which would do nothing to suppress the spread of the virus but which would simply sound the death knell for jobs and for famous London casinos.
“Closing our bars rather than our entire casinos would have a more limited impact on our revenues, would protect jobs, preserve the future of casinos and would retain tax receipts for the Treasury.”
-The venues, which contribute to London ‘s GDP in excess of £ 180 million a year and help to support 4,000 jobs directly, are said to be “already trying to restablish themselves following the impact of the first lockdown.”
The chief executives also point out that after seeing the anti-COVID steps they had placed in place, senior public health officials, including Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam, gave the go-ahead for casinos to reopen safely last month.
The Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, explained: “We support the need to act quickly to protect public health and thank the government for the help they have given to casinos during the pandemic.
“However, it is no exaggeration to say that a blanket 10pm curfew would be devastating for a sector which does more than half of its business after that time and which is still struggling to get back on its feet following the first lockdown and the collapse of tourism.
“The 10pm curfew just risks encouraging young people to mix in households, where there is no track and trace, and spreading the virus further and faster. But if the London mayor or government want to close pubs and restaurants at 10pm, we can do that in the casinos too, while continuing to provide a best-in-class COVID-secure environment. This might be a sensible compromise.
“The alternative is the prospect of thousands of job losses – both in London and across the UK – and the permanent closure of some of the capital’s most iconic casinos that can help power our much-needed economic recovery.”