Last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced how the easing of the current nation-wide lockdown will look from 2 December.
These restrictions have the aim of reducing social contact, which should bring transmissions to a manageable level. They are for the sake of national health, but also consider the needs of the economy. To avoid a catastrophic recession, the Government must protect the jobs of as many people as possible and give people incentives to spend their money.
Casinos contribute a great deal to the economy and are due to reopen alongside many other retail venues. We do not know yet the full extent of the impact the current lockdown has had on the gambling industry. But when venues reopened after the first lockdown, several struggled to survive.
Here are how the new rules will affect the land-based casino industry.
Tier one: medium alert
All indoor venues, including casinos, arcades and bingo halls, must close their doors by 11pm. This is one hour later than during the previous lockdown restrictions which had all indoor venues, including pubs and restaurants, closing at 10pm. This rule applies to other venues such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, museums, bowling alleys, funfairs, theme parks.
Additionally, you cannot meet anyone from outside your household or bubble at one of these venues.
Tier two: high alert
The danger may be worse, but when it comes to indoor venues such as casinos, tier two face exactly the same restrictions as tier one. The 11pm closure is the main thing to remember. A hard thing for casinos to come to terms with, considering that under usual circumstances, customers tend to visit in the later hours. This early closure means a lot of lost revenue.
Tier three: very high alert
This is the tier with the most extreme need for restrictions to help curve the infection rate. That’s why the Government decided that all indoor entertainment and tourist venues, including casinos and bingo halls, must remain closed for the foreseeable future. This also applies to indoor play centres, bowling alleys, skating rinks, escape rooms, cinemas, theatres and concert halls.
You’ll have to wait till Thursday to find out which tier your area falls under. You will be able to use the postcode checker on the Government website or the NHS COVID-19 app to find out the restrictions in your area or an area you plan to visit.
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has responded to the Government’s decision to reopen casinos and betting shops and ensures that safety for both customers and staff is still of utmost importance.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC, said: “This is great news for our customers in communities across large parts of England and for the thousands of people employed in high street betting shops.
“On top of the stringent anti-Covid measures betting shops already adhere to, our members have agreed to further restrictions to limit any chance of Covid being transmitted in their premises.
“We look forward to England coming out of lockdown next week, with betting shops back contributing to the Exchequer and playing their part in helping power the country’s economic recovery.”
However, he is unsatisfied with the harsher rules that apply to casinos in tier three.
He said: “Casinos are best-in-class amongst the hospitality sector when it comes to anti-Covid measures. There is no evidence that they contribute to the spread of the virus. So it remains extremely disappointing that they are still being ordered to close in Tier 3 areas.
“We do welcome the decision to extend the hospitality curfew by an hour to 11pm, but we will continue to make the case that casinos are uniquely exposed to any curfew and we will press for their full and safe reopening in all parts of the country.”
The Government reminded Brits that “the current national restriction rules are still in place until 2 December and must be followed until they expire.”
Crucially, across all tiers, it is still everyone’s responsibility to continue to work from home where possible, wear face coverings around people outside of their households, maintain a two-metre distance from others where possible, and to regularly wash their hands for 20 seconds.
As far as we know, the Christmas slackening of rules from 24 – 28 December will have no impact on the casino industry.