Rank Group CEO: Sector in “heap of trouble” if casino reopening delayed further

By Iqbal Johal

The casino sector could be in a “heap of trouble” if the reopening of venues is delayed further than the new planned date of 15 August, according to the Rank Group CEO.

Earlier on 31 July, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that venues such as casinos in England will not be allowed to resume operations from 1 August, as previously stated under coronavirus lockdown measures being eased. The easing of restrictions have been delayed until at least 15 August.

Rank Group CEO John O’Reilly questioned the move, saying casinos are “not higher risk settings” with social distancing “easy to maintain” in large venues.

Speaking exclusively to Gambling Insider, O’Reilly said: “Public Health England (PHE) has given the sector a clean bill of health.

“We have taken additional measures to ensure our colleagues and customers remain safe and secure at all times.

“The blanket approach taken to casinos is not based on science. It does not appear to be taken on economic grounds either as, in addition to the £1.5m ($1.97m) losses we are experiencing for every week we remain closed, this is costing the Treasury nearly £2m a week in furlough and a similar amount in lost gaming taxes.

“The longer we are closed the bigger the risk to jobs as we are not in a position to benefit from the tapering furlough regime introduced by the Treasury to get everyone back to work by October.

“This has to be a two-week delay, not a suspension, or the sector is in a heap of trouble.”

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