The UK Casino Industry Calls for a “Lifeline” After a Government-Mandated Curfew
The British authorities have confirmed that the country’s hospitality sector will need to stick to a 10 pm curfew, as they battle to keep the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK from spreading further. Casinos are included in this restriction, with leading figures from the gambling industry suggesting that urgent steps are needed to stop them from going under.
Details of the New Restrictions
UK Primer Minister Boris Johnson set out the details of the curfew, together with a range of other emergency measures, for England. The same measures have been introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, following meetings between leaders of all of the countries.
As well as casinos, pubs, bars and restaurants will also need to close by 10 pm. Johnson said that the tough new restrictions could be in place for up to six months, and refused to rule out the possibility of even stricter measures being put in place if the UK’s coronavirus figures continue to rise.
This news was met with dismay across the entire hospitality industry, which has been struggling to recover from the country’s initial lockdown period. Michael Dugher is the chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). He pointed out that the new curfew may reduce the income earned by casinos by as much as 75%.
Dugher suggested that this move could lead to half of all of the people who work in UK casinos losing their jobs, which would be around 7,000 employees being made redundant. He said that the Prime Minister´s new rules may have “signaled the death knell” for the casino industry.
He also pointed out that the sector had offered to close the bars and restaurants inside casinos at 10 pm. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had also argued against them being included in the curfew, as it is thought that casinos normally earn 70% of their income after 10 pm.
Dugher was disappointed that the COVID controls put in place by casinos haven´t been taken into account. This is particularly true when the country’s casinos were only given the green light to open recently after they had put in place the measures needed to operate safely in the current situation.
What Will Happen Next?
The BGC say that it is now “absolutely vital” that the government gives the casino industry a lifeline in the shape of an “urgent economic package”. As part of this, Dugher hopes for the existing employee furlough scheme to be extended beyond the current end date of October 31 for those businesses that are affected by the curfew.
They also backed the called from Labour for a so-called High Street fightback fund. This would be a £1.7 billion package aimed at helping those companies that have been severely hit by the lockdown and now the curfew.
UK casinos have paid £1.3 billion in tax in the last three years, but it is feared that this latest move could force many of them to close if no additional help is given to them soon.