The casino sector in the UK received disappointing news on Thursday when the government confirmed that there would be no reopening of the sector in July.
All casino venues in the UK are currently closed and operators remain in the dark about the future schedule for reopening, but there was little clarity provided by the government this week. On Thursday, the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden outlined the government’s latest easing orders that covered the leisure and hospitality sectors, hailing it as a significant lifting of the lockdown restrictions on sport, the arts and entertainment.
From this coming Saturday, outdoor pools, open air performance venues (a category that includes music halls, theatres and opera halls) and sports pitches will be allowed to reopen, though they will have to closely adhere to the government’s rules on entertainment and sports participation.
The weekend’s further easing of the lockdown will be followed by the opening of beauty salons, tattoo parlours and tanning rooms in England, which will be permitted to return to from Monday July 13. And later on this month, from Saturday July 25, indoor swimming pools and gyms will also be allowed to reopen, though they will also be required to conform to social distancing rules.
Speaking about the announcement, Dowden, who was addressing questions at the government’s latest Covid-19 public briefing, said that it was a sign of how the situation in the UK was improving:
“We’ve made huge progress against the disease, and we are gradually seeing the things we love reopen. Normal life is slowly returning.”
But that optimism has not been shared by other sections of industry, including nightclubs and casinos, which have been offered no detail as to their future reopening. Although betting shops and bingo halls have reopened, there remains a lack of information on casinos, despite a plea from the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) this week for the sector’s workforce to be given clarity on their future.
Earlier this week, the Chief Executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher, wrote to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying that the government should consider allowing casinos to reopen this month.
Although the lack of news on casinos was a disappointment to the BGC, Dugher did welcome a measure introduced by the Treasury in this week’s budget, which will see a cut in VAT from 20% to 5% for all leisure and hospitality firms, which will boost betting shops and bingo halls.