The Uruguayan government has agreed to place a ban on state casinos until April 12th, and has encouraged private casinos to follow suit. This announcement comes just days after gambling halls were removed from limits imposed in response to an increase in COVID-19 infections.
President Luis Lacalle Pou said at a press conference last week that authorities were looking into casino activities, saying: “From my point of view, they should have a limited schedule like bars and restaurants.”
However, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has introduced new regulations, specifying the “casinos [that answer to these ministries] will remain closed until April 12,” as well as demanding that “private casinos comply with this provision.”
The National Association of State Casino Officials (Anfuce) had previously cautioned that closing casinos would “send more than 1,000 public employees home,” without accounting for all contracted jobs.
Furthermore, the association claimed that casinos are not locations where diseases have been identified, owing to strict precautions such as the use of masks, keeping a healthy distance between machines and people, and installing sanitising machines, among other items.
Pressure from media
Employees of the Enjoy Punta del Este Workers Union (Ateu) said that the decision was made “due to the pressure from the media and people who are completely unaware of the activity that takes place at casinos” since the Government’s decision.
“Closing gambling halls means a great loss for employees, companies and the state, which needs funds to help those in need during these circumstances. Money has to come from somewhere,” they said.
They also stated that since the casino hires thousands of employees on a permanent basis, this move could result in job losses.