BGC urges Chancellor to allow UK casinos to reopen

Once again, the Betting and Gaming Council has called for the UK government to allow casinos to reopen this month.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has once again called on the UK government to allow land-based casinos to reopen this month.

Betting shops in the UK were included on the list of non-essential retail businesses that were permitted to reopen in June, while bingo halls were allowed to reopen on 4 July. However, the government has yet to announce when casinos can reopen.

An open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

On Wednesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is set to make a statement as to how he plans to reboot the UK economy following the coronavirus lockdown. In an open letter, BGC chief executive Michael Dugher has urged Sunak to use the speech to also announce how and when casinos can reopen.

Casinos in the UK have been shut since the country entered lockdown on 23 March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an open letter to the Chancellor, Dugher said that current furlough scheme is costing the government around £5m a week just from the land-based casino sector. Dugher also pointed out that last year, casinos paid an average of £5.7m a week in tax and duties.

Dugher wrote: “The UK casino sector were sorely disappointed not to be included in the list of industries allowed to reopen on 4 July.

“Casinos want to get back in business and once again contributing to the economy, not costing the Exchequer money. With phased reductions in wage support kicking in soon, there is however a real fear that if reopening doesn’t happen in July there will be severe damage caused to the casino industry.”

Casinos have safety measures in place

Dugher also said he believes that casinos are read to safely welcome customers after implementing several safety measures. These safety measures include the installation of Perspex screens, sanitizing equipment, setting up a track and trace system and adhering to social distancing measures.

Last week, the BGC revealed it visited the Rank-owned Rialto Casino in London to highlight the steps being taken by land-based operators.

In the letter, Dugher also said: “To our knowledge, casinos have met all Covid safety requirements and yet they are still not permitted to open. We urgently ask for your help to get casinos reopened and back to contributing to the UK economy.

“The cost of remaining in a reopening ‘holding pattern’ is significantly higher as it means businesses are kept in a state of preparedness, including maintaining the premises for reopening, cleaning, restocking supplies and staffing.

“Having made the necessary preparations for a July reopening, casinos are ready and able to open at the earliest opportunity. We would greatly appreciate any help you can give to get our businesses back open and contributing to the UK economy.”

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