UK – Extended casino closures in the UK slammed as ‘completely illogical’By Phil - 16 July 2020
British casino bosses have slammed the move to keep the sector’s doors shut throughout July as ‘completely illogical’ especially as bingo halls, amusement arcades and betting shops have all been allowed to reopen.
Speaking on the Blue-Collar Conversations podcast, Simon Thomas, Chief Executive of The Hippodrome in London, said: “If there is the need for gradual easing, to have casinos as one of the last one is bizarre. Compare us with bingo halls, casinos are not sessional, and people are not going in lumps. The customers are also relatively younger in a casino, the average age is 30s, whereas bingo halls are quite a lot older, certainly more in the higher risk groups and just taking those two reasons if there was gradual easing it should be the other way around.”
“There is some logic to a gradual easing, but the Government should be taking a more informed decision as to what parts to open first,” he added. “ Opening pubs and restaurants ahead of casinos is curious to say the least. We were expecting to reopen on July 4 we were restocking bars, restaurants and taking people out of furlough, increasing our cost. I appreciate it is difficult for the Government as there is a lot of unknowns, clarity and information would be very helpful to help us manage through this process and open as soon as we can. There is a relatively high tax take per customers and a relatively large amount of that is foreign income. A number of casinos have already confirmed closure but at the Hippodrome we are losing a million pounds a month even after the furlough scheme and that impact must be going all the way through the supply chain. It is not a very comfortable place to be.”
Matt Rudd, General Manager of the Grosvenor Casino in Birmingham, added: “My casino is very much part of the local community; lockdown didn’t change that, it simply gave us a new way of showcasing our community values. I’ve taken the opportunity to look around what else is happening here in Birmingham and am delighted that we appear to have gone the extra distance to ensure that customers will receive the safest possible welcome and experience when we’re finally allowed to unlock our doors.I’m adding my voice to thousands of others by asking the government to allow us to reopen our casinos as soon as they possibly can.
“I’m also acutely aware that our customers are eager to return. In recent days I’ve been fielding more and more calls from many of our regulars who also can’t understand why casinos haven’t been allowed to reopen. I am confident that they will like what they find when we are given the green light.”
Mr. Thomas also slammed the introduction of a new higher congestion charge rate brought in at the evening and at the weekend.
“The Mayor’s punitive new late night and weekend congestion charge is indicative of a disregard for jobs, business and tourism, on top of a campaign to stop people using public transport,” he said. “During brighter days, the Mayor is the first to declare the West End a world renowned success and, by inference, claim its glory as his. I’ll be interested to see if he is just as keen to shoulder the blame for its slow death through his actions.”