Scotland: The Chips Are Down campaignBy Lewis - 10 December 2020
‘The Chips Are Down: Save Our Casinos, Save Our Jobs’ is a unified campaign urging Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to lift restrictions and allow casino venues to reopen in Level 2 as more than 700 people employed by the casino industry face job uncertainty after venues were forced to close. Grosvenor Casinos, Genting Casinos, Caesars Entertainment and the Betting and Gaming Council in the UK have joined forces to lobby on behalf of the industry.
After weeks of closure and with hundreds of jobs at risk, the casino industry in Scotland has joined forces to urge the Scottish Government to change its current tiering restrictions which are forcing venues to remain closed.
Eleven casino venues in Scotland, which support more than 700 jobs in Aberdeen, Dundee Edinburgh and Glasgow, have launched a petition encouraging customers to write to the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to enable the recovery of the sector by allowing casinos to open in Level 2.
Led by Scotland’s largest casino operator, Grosvenor Casinos and with the support of Genting Casinos, Caesars Entertainment and trade association Betting and Gaming Council, ‘The Chips Are Down: Save Our Casinos, Save Our Jobs’ campaign points to the belief that the casino industry is being unfairly singled out.
Whilst pubs, bars, restaurants and cinemas are able to continue to trade in Level 2 or below, the shutters came down on casino venues when the Scotland Strategic Framework was announced, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.
Casinos are stressing the urgent need for the Scottish Government to lift the current restrictions imposed and allow venues to open in Level 2, and are asking the government to better understand the evidence which clearly points to casinos as ultra-safe venues.
Jonathon Swaine, Managing Director of Grosvenor Casinos, said: “We cannot stress enough how damaging it is that casinos across Scotland are being imposed with these arbitrary restrictions. As an industry we provide ultra-safe venues for colleagues and customers to visit. There is not a shred of scientific evidence which supports the decision to keep casinos closed in Level 2 while other hospitality venues are able to stay open.
“If Scottish casinos are forced to remain closed it will have a devastating impact on those customers who enjoy their local venues as a community hub, on team members who will lose their jobs, on the local suppliers it serves, on the charities that they are proud to support, as well as on the wider economy which will lose millions of pounds in tax receipts.”
Paul Willcock, President of Genting UK, added: “The Chips are Down campaign is incredibly important for our Scottish Casinos and we are proud to be working together with our colleagues at Grosvenor and Caesars in order to raise the profile of our plight in Scotland.
“Casinos have some of the most stringent covid controls within the hospitality industry and it cannot be correct that we are forced to remain closed in level 2 areas.”
Out of 30,000 unique admissions through the doors since reopening in August (following the initial lockdown in the UK), there has been just one recorded case of coronavirus transmission within any casino in Scotland, with 87 per cent of casino customers saying that they feel safe in a casino compared to other entertainment and hospitality venues.
Casino businesses have invested millions of pounds to ensure venues are safe for its colleagues and customers to play, installing PPE such as plexiglass screens between gaming tables, ID scanning technology upon entry, hand sanitiser stations and social distancing signage throughout venues.
The casino industry in Scotland contributed £30m in tax a year to the UK economy, but the continued and unjustified closure of casinos in Scotland is threatening to shut their doors for good.
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “Casinos in Scotland safely re-opened in August, with excellent anti- Covid measures in place, and there is absolutely no evidence that they contribute to the spread of virus.
“Closing them makes no sense, especially when other parts of the hospitality sector are being allowed to stay open. That’s why the industry is rallying together to urge the Scottish Government to think again, remove casinos from Level 2 and let them get back to business.”