Land-based casinos in the United Kingdom are set to remain shut until at least August 15th after the Conservative government chose to postpone the further easing of lockdown measures.
Delay to Reopening
While pubs and hairdressers were allowed to reopen on July 4 as the country looks to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 virus and the associated business and societal lockdowns, it had been hoped that cinemas, bowling alleys and casinos would open up on August 1.
However, the government has now decided to delay the planned gradual easing of lockdown measures on larger indoor venues, closing them for a further two weeks at least.
Casinos in Britain were forced to shut their doors back on March 20, and there is frustration within the industry given that other bricks and mortar betting entities such as betting shops and bingo halls have been allowed to now begin trading. Betting shops have been open since June 15 and bingo halls since July 4.
No Crowds for Now
Another thing the government, rightly or wrongly, has reneged on is the planned trial of limited crowds attending sports events.
Initially, the fifth and final day of the Glorious Goodwood horse racing meeting on August 1 was due to have 5,000 people in attendance, however such trials will now not be taking place until later in the month at least.
Controversial and divisive Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken out recently to say that his government cannot take a risk, and that they will continue to study the data carefully and move forward with their intention to open up as soon they can.
Michael Dugher, the Betting and Gaming Council’s chief executive, has recently had his say on the delay saying that there is no evidence at all to show that land-based casinos pose a higher risk than small venues.
Dugher has also berated the decision to enforce all closures nationwide, asking recently why a casino business should remain closed in a city where the COVID threat is low, simply because there is a spike in another part of the nation. It’s a fair question too.
Britain Not United in Response
The announcement of delays to the reopening of casinos and other large venues comes after restrictions were put back in place locally because of spikes in COVID cases.
Those living in West Yorkshire, east Lancashire and in Greater Manchester are now subject to restrictions, while the Scottish government has always been autonomous on this and has warned its people now not to travel to these parts of England.
SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set a date of August 24, subject to change, for Scotland’s casinos, amusement arcades and bingo halls to reopen. This depends on confirmed cases of COVID-19 falling further in the coming days and weeks.
With coronavirus cases rising in parts of England, it is not known yet whether the UK Prime Minister’s delay announcement will affect the reopening of gambling venues in Scotland, Sturgeon for her part having already said that she can change her mind on opening dates.
The Welsh government has not yet announced its own reopening dates for casinos though it is hoped that will come soon as, like them or loath them, casinos are huge employers and have been left rather in limbo during this period.