BGC Calls for an Extension to the UK Government’s Furlough Scheme

The UK Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) warned on Tuesday, August 12th that over 100 casinos, including the iconic Les Ambassadeurs in Mayfair, which was used in the filming of the classic James Bond film Dr No and the London Hippodrome, are at risk of permanent closure if they do not get any more government aid.

The BGC have called for an extension of the UK Government’s furlough scheme as casinos will be facing an additional £14 million expenditure, when the scheme gets scaled back in October. This could put 6,000 jobs at risk, half the number that are employed in the sector.

 

Casino re-opening pushed back again

Casinos, bowling alleys and ice rinks were due to re-open in England on August 1st, but UK Prime Minister Boris decided to push this back by a minimum of two weeks after there was a spike in COVID-19 cases in the North West of England. A review of this is due to happen this week, but venues have been kept in the dark, which is a concern as they will need to employ COVID safe measures like other businesses that have re-opened post lockdown.

As we have reported previously, Land-based casinos were initially due to re-open on July 4th, but again this was pushed back in the eleventh hour by PM Johnson.

Casinos contribute over £300 million into the UK tourism economy every single year. The BGC has said that every week that casinos are remaining closed, the costs for the casinos will continue to rise as the government makes amendments to the furlough scheme which has meant that they are now having to pay their employees National Insurance and pensions, despite being closed.

Constant Change Constant Costs

Casinos have invested heavily in their venues to make sure they adhere to the new government COVID-secure measures. This includes installing Perspex screens, sanitisation equipment and track and trace systems, as well as implementing strict social distancing procedures and hygiene protocols.

As we said in our previous report, the casinos were given the green light to re-open after Public Health England visited a London casino to check out the new safety measures that were put in place. The decision was announced on July 17th before being reversed a mere 12 hours before the scheduled re-opening. According to the BGC, the casino sector spent £6 million in getting themselves COVID secure.

The BGC Chief Executive, Michael Dugher had this to say on the matter: “World famous and iconic venues like the Hippodrome and Les Ambassadeurs are not just part of our proud past, they want to be part of economic revival in the future. They are not looking for a handout – they are looking to help out. By re-opening safely so they can play their part in contributing to getting the economy moving again and to contributing vital tax revenues to the Exchequer. Some of Britain’s most iconic casinos, who attract high spending visitors from around the world, are sitting idle whilst pubs and restaurants round the corner are open and doing a roaring trade.”

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