Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today confirmed that England’s casinos can reopen on August 1, but those in Wales and Scotland will have to wait for confirmation of their own reopening dates.
The reopening across England will come after more than four months of lockdown in a move that has been widely praised by the Betting and Gaming Council, which has urged the government to revoke its stance on many occasions.
The sector has implemented a number of stringent anti-COVID steps during this period to ensure the health of its employees and customers.
Those involve ensuring that before and after use, seating and table areas, as well as roulette chips, must be sanitised. Additionally , customers are limited to playing at one table and have to sanitise their hands before and after playing table games, and patrons may have to remain seated and are not allowed to move. Face covers are available on request for customers too.
England’s casinos employ more than 12,000 people and contribute almost £300 m in tax to the Exchequer, as well as adding almost £4 m a week to the tourism economy.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, welcomed the decision: “After four long months of lockdown, it’s fantastic to see casinos will reopen safely for business again on 1 August. I am delighted that they can now play their part in supporting the recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector.
“BGC casino members went the extra mile to meet strict COVID guidelines some weeks ago but were left in the dark as to when they would be allowed to reopen. I’d like to thank DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, Minister Nigel Hiddleston and the many cross-party MPs who supported us and worked hard to secure a reopening date.
“Britain’s casinos employ thousands of people and pay millions in tax, and they were one of the few remaining leisure and hospitality businesses to remain closed.”
However, the trading body called for an end to the confusion for the 2,000 workers employed in Scottish and Welsh casinos who still have no end to lockdown in mind.
“The uncertainty has been awful for the 12,000 people who work in casinos in England and we now call on Scottish and Welsh governments to follow suit and permit casinos to reopen without delay,” Dugher added.
“The devolved administrations owe it to the 2,000 employees who work in Scottish and Welsh casinos to end this uncertainty and help them return to work.”