UK casino venues have been given the green light to re-open.
The UK government announced last week that all casino venues across the nation will be allowed to re-open from August 1st. The announces comes as the government continues to relax its COVID-19 lockdown measures and after most of the rest of the UK has re-opened.
Shortly after the news was announced, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) praised the decision after having spent weeks urging the government to allow casino venues to re-open. The firm also encouraged the Welsh and Scottish governments to follow suit.
BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher, who earlier this month penned a letter to the government urging them to allow casinos to re-open, said of the announcement: “After four long months of lockdown, it’s fantastic to see casinos will re-open safely for business again on 1 August. I am delighted that they can now play their part in supporting the recovery of the tourism and hospitality sector.
“BGC casino members went the extra mile to meet strict COVID guidelines some weeks ago but were left in the dark as to when they would be allowed to re-open. I’d like to thank DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, Minister Nigel Hiddleston, and the many cross-party MPs who supported us and worked hard to secure a re-opening date.”
According to FocusGN, the re-opening of all casino venues will allow around 12,000 people employed within the industry to return to work after more than four months of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown which first began on March 20th.
Although casinos in England have been given the go-ahead, venues in Scotland and Wales haven’t. Dugher hopes that their governments will soon follow England, saying: “The uncertainty has been awful for the 12,000 people who work in casinos in England and we now call on Scottish and Welsh governments to follow suit and permit casinos to re-open without delay.”
“The devolved administrations owe it to the 2,000 employees who work in Scottish and Welsh casinos to end this uncertainty and help them return to work,” he added.
Real-life casino venues were all closed but online websites continued to operate including all the casino sites we’ve reviewed here.
Although the news has been welcomed by thousands, it arrived a little too late for many others. Last week, we reported that Buzz Bingo announced the closure of 26 of its UK venues, putting almost 600 jobs at risk. However, the bingo brand is set to start a staggered re-opening of its remaining 91 venues on August 6th.
In a statement, Buzz Bingo’s Chief Executive Chris Matthews shared his deepest condolences to all affected, saying: “We know how disappointed this news will be – especially for those of our customers who are losing their local club, and of course, our colleagues – we know that we are more than just a club, we are part of your community, and for that, I am really sorry.”
He later explained that the company is planning a restructure of all its retail venues before admitting that it will take time before footfall at its venues across the nation returns to their pre-pandemic levels due to the current social distancing requirements as well as a lack of customer confidence.
Similarly, Genting Casino announced that it will be closing three of its casino venues and axing around 1,600 jobs due to the lockdown period. The three venues closing down are located in Torquay, Margate, and Bristol, while venues in London, Birmingham, Blackpool, and Edinburgh are expected to undergo staff cuts – some venues will reportedly have around half of its staff cut.
A statement issued last week from Genting reads: “Despite the ongoing uncertainty in relation to when we may be able to open our doors again, we are continuing to prepare for our re-opening – albeit with significant changes being implemented to our physical premises and to our operating model. In light of these changes, we are having to make some heart-breaking decisions about the future of the business and it is with huge regret that job losses are simply unavoidable.”
They added: “We will be doing everything we can to bring those individuals back in to the business at a later stage.”
With gambling is set to resume across England next month, UK MPs have now turned their attention to a completely different matter; the minimum age for National Lottery. The Gambling Related All-Party Parliamentary Group has issued an open letter to UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urging him to increase the minimum age of National Lottery tickets 18.
As reported by CasinoGuardian, the All-Party group cited a report from the UK Gambling Commission which found that 16 and 17-year-olds spent over £40 million on National Lottery products between 2017 and 2018. The group of MPs said the National Lottery could spark a gambling epidemic amongst the underaged.
Carolyn Harris, Labour MP and the Chair of the Gambling Related Harm All-Party Parliamentary Group, said: “The lottery is clearly competing with mainstream gambling companies, but they have the advantage of being able to target children aged 16 and 17 – some of whom can spend up to £350 per week on games. We must ensure that this loophole is closed quickly.”
Camelot, the company which runs the National Lottery products, agreed that the age restrictions should be reviewed ahead of the next license period for the National Lottery, saying that it wouldn’t push back against any decision from the government regarding age limits.
The company said in a statement: “It is appropriate to review the minimum age for playing National Lottery games for the next license period as it has been more than 25 years since these restrictions were set.”
Although the minimum age of gambling is 18, all National Lottery products are available to people as young as 16 and some scratchcards based on television problems have become incredibly popular with teens, with many accusing the National Lottery products of intentionally targeting young people.
This news comes as UK MPs are currently urging the government to make changes to its video slots at online casinos. The proposed changes include a reduction in slot speed as well as the removal of Autoplay features, fake wins, and a nation-wide ban on reverse withdrawals.