The Betting and Gaming Council has hit out at Scotland’s schedule for reopening its casinos.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called for casinos in Scotland to reopen alongside other hospitality venues after a report by hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley said there was “no logical” reason for the distinction.
Casino reopenings in Scotland
While casinos in England have been given the provisional re-opening date of 17 May, which is the same date that leisure and hospitality venues may reopen, the rules are different in Scotland.
In Scotland, pubs, restaurants and the wider hospitality sector may reopen in Level 2 areas while casinos would only be allowed to reopen in Level 1 zones.
Ackerley, who is known as The Hygiene Doctor, conducted an independent study of Grosvenor Casino premises for a report on their anti-Covid measures.
The report’s findings are based on evidence from an independent assessment, undertaken by Food Alert, in venues including Grosvenor Casino’s Edinburgh Maybury and Glasgow Merchant City.
Grosvenor Casinos have been awarded the Food Alert COVID-19 Secure Certificate.
According to Ackerley’s report, casinos appear to be safer than hospitality facilities like restaurants and pubs.
Ackerley said: “The casino industry has responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by embracing the need to implement a full range of stringent measures to keep staff and customers safe. In my opinion, this industry’s response has resulted in it being as safe, if not safer, during the pandemic than many others, for example, some other parts of the hospitality sector, where socialising and alcohol consumption is the norm.
“I find that there is no reason for the casino industry to be treated more harshly in terms of lockdown measures than the rest of hospitality; in fact, it can be seen that the measures taken by casinos actually offer more protection to staff and the public.
“There seems no logical or scientific reason why the casino industry should be closed where pubs and restaurants are allowed to open in Scotland.”
Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Grosvenor Casinos, said: “Dr Ackerley’s findings provide objective, scientific evidence that casinos have been treated unfairly and the time has come for the correction to be made. It clearly concludes that forcing casinos to remain closed in level 2 regions, whilst other hospitality businesses can open, is absurd.
“We’re now appealing to the First Minister and the Scottish Government to pay heed to this compelling evidence. When parts of the country return to level 2 status, casinos must be allowed to open and the industry deserves to be treated with parity and fairness. All we ask is for an equitable approach to hospitality, based on the highest quality evidence that exists.”
BGC slams casino reopening schedule
The BGC said that members of Scotland’s government had not visited any of the BGC’s casinos to see how they were working to make their venues COVID-secure.
The industry standards body reminded the government that the casino industry employs 700 people in Scotland and has invested millions of pounds to ensure venues are safe for staff and customers.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “Ordering the closure of casinos in Level 2 areas in Scotland was a needless blow for the 700 hardworking men and women that they employ.
“Despite repeated invitations, it is regrettable that no Scottish Government official has even visited any of our members’ casinos to see for themselves the excellent anti-Covid measures which they have put in place.
“As Dr Ackerley’s report confirms, casinos are as safe, if not safer, than many other hospitality venues, such as pubs and restaurants, so why are they being treated differently? In England, casinos will be rightly safely reopened when the rest of the hospitality is.
“It is not too late for the Scottish Government to think again, follow the evidence and allow casinos to safely re-open in Level 2.”