BGC demands government accelerate casino reopening plans

Industry standards body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is continuing its campaign to urge the UK government to allow casinos to reopen from July by highlighting the measures taken by operators to protect customers.

While betting shops were permitted to reopen from 15 June, following the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown, it was announced earlier this month that despite hospitality venues including hotels, pubs and restaurants following on 4 July, casinos would remain closed.

At the time, the BGC condemned this as “inconsistent and nonsensical”, with the body looking to highlight the steps taken by operators today (30 June) by visiting the Rank-owend Rialto Casino in London

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said the body was “obviously disappointed” by the government’s decision to keep casinos closed on 4 July, and urged ministers to look at the efforts taken by operators to protect customers.

“We want to play our part in kick starting the economy, just like other parts of the leisure, entertainment and hospitality industry,” Dugher said. “In this time of great economic uncertainty, the contribution that casinos make to the nation’s finances cannot be under-estimated.

“We hope that the Government will respond positively and quickly – and avoid the threat of significant job losses.”

The BGC pointed out that the UK’s 120 casinos had introduced a range of strict safety measures, such as mandatory sanitising of seating, table areas and chips before and after use.

Customers are also limited to playing at a single table, and must sanitise their hands before and after. While playing table games, they will also be prohibited from circulating, with masks to be made available on request.

“I was hugely impressed by what I saw at the Rialto Casino, one of the Grosvenor casinos,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher (pictured) said. “From markings urging social distancing on the floor, to multiple hand sanitisers, sanitised chips and screens separating customers and staff, it’s obvious they have pulled out all the stops to make sure they can re-open safely.

“I know other operators from across the country are making similar efforts and investment.”

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