Despite fears of the potentially super-infectious Indian variant, the UK government has decided to cash out Covid and push ahead with the reopening of the nation’s 100 casinos today, May 17.
The bricks-and-mortar casino industry employs 11,600 people in the UK and pays around £500 million (US$705.64m/€580m) in tax.
And Britain’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has lauded the return of traditional real-world gambling.
“It’s great news that most of the UK’s casinos are finally able to reopen,” said BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher. “It’s testament to the hard work that staff have put in making them Covid secure.
“Casinos provide excellent entertainment for their customers [and] are a major contributor to the UK economy, something which will be vital in the months ahead as the Government tries to repair the damage done to the nation’s finances by Covid-19,” affirmed Dugher.
Last month the UK’s 7,700 betting shops–which employ nearly 50,000 people and contribute an estimated £7.7 billion in Gross Vale Added (US$10.87bn/€8.93bn) to the national economy–were allowed to open.
A carry-over ban on showcasing live sporting events on TV in betting shops was also lifted today, meaning that action in the UK’s bookies has now pretty much returned to pre-pandemic normal – although Covid health and safety protocols of face masks, social distancing, protective Perspex screens and hand sanitising remain a given; as they do on casino floors.
“I am also delighted that the restrictions imposed on betting shops are being lifted,” said Dugher.
“Their safe reopening in April has been a huge success and this is further reward for the efforts they have made to ensure their premises are Covid secure.”
Casinos, betting shops, bingo halls and adult gaming entertainment centres were shuttered in January across the UK as the nation’s constituent countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland battled a third wave of Covid-19.
Perhaps today–with the concurrent lifting of Covid closures across the entertainment and lifestyle industries, embracing restaurants, bars, cinemas, hotels, theatres, museums and sports stadia–marks the return of something approaching normal.