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BGC warns casino reopening delay may put 6,000 jobs at risk

The Betting and Gaming Council has warned that the UK government’s decision to delay the reopening of casinos will put jobs at risk.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has warned that the government’s decision to delay the reopening of casinos in England by at least two weeks could put 6,000 jobs at risk.

England casino reopening delayed

Casinos in England were initially set to reopen on 1 August along with other businesses like bowling alleys and cinemas after being closed for more than four months due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, on Friday, the UK government announced that these businesses would not be able to reopen to the public until 15 August at the earliest.

During the government briefing on Friday, the government said the decision was made due to concerns over a rise in coronavirus cases.

Shortly after the announcement was made BGC chief executive Michael Dugher expressed “utter dismay” at the government decision.

Dugher said that casinos had spent millions of pounds on preparing to reopen for 1 August and brining back furloughed staff, only to be told the day before that they would not be allowed to reopen.

Dugher also noted that casinos put several measures in place including the installation of perspex screens, sanitisation equipment and implementing track and trace systems.

BGC warns 6,000 jobs at risk

Dugher described the government’s decision as a “wrecking ball” that would put jobs in the casino industry at risk.

The BGC noted that the casino sector employs more than 14,000 people across the UK in 125 casinos and a further 4,000 in the supply chain. Casinos also paid over £300 million each year in tax before the lockdown.

Dugher said: “The government are swinging a wrecking ball right through the middle of our industry and large scale job losses, which ought to be unnecessary and avoidable, now look inevitable unless ministers act fast.

“Casinos are a small but fundamental part of our leisure, hospitality, entertainment and tourism industry. They employ over 14,000 people across the UK and indirectly support another 4,000 jobs in the supply sector, and last year casinos paid over £5.7 million in tax per week.”

Concerns raised by Dugher were reflected by several land-based casino operators such as Genting Casino which warned it may need to make “heart breaking decisions” about the future of its businesses and that some job losses will be “simply unavoidable.”

Another operator, Rank Group, which employs 4,600 people across its Grosvenor Casino business warned it also faces tough decisions unless the government can provide assurances on the reopening of casinos.

Dugher said: “The ongoing cost of remaining in a holding pattern to reopen is clearly not sustainable, with more jobs and livelihoods being put at risk with every last-minute change and delay to reopening.

“The Job Retention Scheme has helped but our members will now be forced to pay National Insurance and pension contributions on top of salaries in August while they remain closed. As furlough payments are phased out, there will be no flexibility for casinos to adapt to the new working and leisure environment and I now fear that many thousands of jobs could be lost.”

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