Ever since the recent COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent mandatory lockdown, land-based casinos have struggled to re-establish business operations. Casino doors all across the UK have been closed since March due to the lockdown. The situation has been made even worse in June, when ministers ruled that casinos could not re-open by July 4, unlike many other businesses in the hospitality and gaming industry.
In lieu of this, the UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has recently urged Rishi Sunak, UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, to allow casinos to finally re-open this July in a bid to contribute to the Treasury and help give the economy a boost.
Casino closures mean that the Treasury is missing out on big contributions and revenues as land-based casinos have been proven to pay taxes and duties upwards of £5.7m each week.
As the lockdown progressed, casinos have done their part and invested heavily in measures that will keep their premises COVID safe. These methods include investing in sanitation equipment, barrier screens, strict social distancing floor measures, changes in game arrangements and sanitation procedures, and sophisticated track and trace systems.
The Chancellor has laid out plans on how to get businesses, which employ over 14,000 people and contribute around £4m a week to the tourism economy, up and running in order to reboot the UK economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. He focused on helping one another through various funding schemes ultimately aimed at job creation and increasing public spending. In a bid to add on to the effort, Micheal Dugher, the chief executive officer of the BGC, has sent an open letter to the Chancellor stating that the sector is ready to help the economy get back on its feet again as soon the Government allows them to reopen.
Dugher said that HM Treasury’s support in the efforts to boost jobs and job retention is extremely welcome, however, the continued support is costing the Treasury about £5 million per week as casinos remain closed. He further stated that casinos want to reopen their businesses and contribute to the UK’s economy by not only costing the Treasury £5 million per week in wage support but also helping out through their tax payments amounting to £5.7m million per week.
He further stated that with phased reductions in wage support looming, there is very real fear and possibility that if reopening doesn’t push through in July, there will severe implications to the casino industry. He further explained that the cost of remaining in a reopening limbo is significant because businesses are always kept in a state of preparedness, meaning that the premises are staffed, stocked, cleaned, and kept for reopening.
He further pointed out that the situation across Europe is different as many casinos have already re-opened despite having to comply with less stringent anti-COVID measures compared to those in the UK. Finally, Dugher stressed that casinos have already made the necessary preparations for a July reopening and they are ready and able to open and contribute to the UK’s economy at the earliest time.