The UK gambling industry will continue to feel the pinch of lockdown as the Government on Thursday denied casino owners a July reopening, with no notice as to future easing orders.
The announcement formed part of culture secretary Oliver Dowden’s address where government’s latest easing orders for leisure and hospitality businesses were made public.
Outdoor pools, sports pitches and open-air performance venues are set to reopen from Saturday, with beauty salons, tattoo parlours and tanning rooms next in-line for reopening on 13 July. Gyms and indoor swimming pools concluded the reopening orders, which will start from 25 July.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) criticised the decision not to reopen the sector, with BGC chief executive Michael Dugher claiming in a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak that it would cost the Treasury around £5 million per week to keep 14,000 casino staff on furlough.
“Casinos want to get back in business and once again contribute to the economy, not cost the Exchequer money. Last year, casinos paid over £5.7m million in tax per week,” wrote Dugher.
“With phased reductions in wage support kicking in soon, there is a real fear that if reopening doesn’t happen in July there will be severe damage caused to the casino industry.”
According to previous statements by the BGC, the casino sector contributes nearly £4 million a week to UK tourism and have proven their ability to maintain public health orders by introducing stringent social distancing and hygiene measures.
Sunak is expected to issue his ‘summer statement’ later today, underlining vital business grants, industry subsidies and workforce schemes to help boost the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19.