Land-based casinos in the UK are offering to stop selling alcohol in a bid to avoid further COVID-19 closures.
Forced closures have been described as potentially “catastrophic”, with thousands of jobs at risk if this was to happen.
Casinos in Central Scotland have already been forced to close again until at least 25th October, less than two months after being allowed to reopen.
“A last-ditch bid to avoid closure”
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has written to all local MPs in the UK, asking them to lobby to the government and avoid a second closure. In the letter, the council mentioned that the first lockdown has contributed to annual revenue drops of 70%.
Casinos in the UK are already forced to close their doors at 10 pm, in line with other hospitality businesses.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher has argued that casinos have already proven that they are taking the appropriate safety measures.
“Casinos have already proved, thanks to their world-class track and trace systems, the use of Perspex screens, hand sanitisers and strict social distancing rules, that they are COVID-secure according to Public Health England.
“There are relatively few casinos, we know that their impact on COVID is negligible and they have in fact operated perfectly safely since re-opening in August. There are no public health grounds to order their closure now.”
A turbulent year for UK casinos
Casinos in Britain employ 14,000 people and, over the past three years, have “raised £1.3 billion for the treasury”. Venues were forced to close in mid-March as the country entered its first lockdown.
As the UK awoke from its slumber, casino businesses were also among the last to reopen – only getting the nod in August.
Dugher is hopeful that the government will use some form of sensibility when they announce next week’s expected new restrictions.
“Ministers need to understand that casinos are not pseudo-nightclubs or places where young people go to drink. Nevertheless, they are willing to reduce their risk levels even further by refusing to serve alcohol, which the Government seems to think is another factor in the spread of the virus.
“In light of all of this, I would urge ministers to be reasonable and allow casinos to remain safely open and continue to play their part in raising desperately-needed tax revenues for the Treasury, whilst also stopping the spread of the coronavirus.”
The UK government is expected to bring in a three-tier local lockdown system next week, in a bid to fight off rising cases in the country.