Following the spread of the worldwide Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the United Kingdom (UK) government issued orders for all land-based casinos in the UK to close their doors back in March. Almost two months on and there are still no signs that casinos in the UK will soon be allowed to safely reopen.
The UK currently has the largest COVID-19 related death toll in Europe and the second largest death toll in the world behind only the USA. Seeing as the UK government have been totally inadequate at stopping the virus from spreading throughout the country, it is unlikely that UK casinos will be opening anytime soon. Sports betting bookies in the UK have already had to bear the brunt of coronavirus which has halted professional sports leagues around the world. However, there is hope.
Casinos in the UK are likely to be among the last public buildings to open again, along with pubs and restaurants, according to The Telegraph. We are still no the wiser as to when this will be but it will certainly not be before July. The UK is now into their second phase of lock down whereby the public have more freedom to go outside and meet up with others, but on the whole, the country will likely be among the last in Europe to come out of lock down.
Spain have begun lifting restrictions – citizens are now allowed to go out for haircuts for example whilst according to ITV, Italy are allowing travel in and out of the country from June 3rd.
Unfortunately for casino goers, casino gambling is regarded as one of the least necessary activities. Not to mention that online casinos are still in operation, so casino loyalists still have an alternative if they really want to play.
How are casinos fairing since lock-down began?
Land based casinos will certainly be feeling the brunt. Almost all land-based casinos have furloughed their workers in an effort to ensure losses are lessened. Although the majority of land-based casinos will instead switch their attentions to making the most of their online sites, there are some casinos that are heavily reliant on land-based customers. These casinos are under heavy pressure to ensure they are still in a position to re-open their doors to the public once restrictions are lifted.
The share price of many companies within the leisure industry, which casinos fall under, have seen prices plummet by as much as 40% since the lock-down began. This is due to expectations that these industries would be closed for an extended and unknown period of time. Sadly, a lot of companies within the industry, casino operators included do not have the financial resources to hold on. Many will be forced out of business.
Is there a time frame for the reopening of Casinos?
There is still no time frame for when casinos and other companies in the leisure industry will be allowed to open again. However, the government is looking at a stage three plan which will enable currently closed industries such as aviation, hospitality, personal care and leisure, to gradually reopen. This stage three plan will not begin any earlier than July 4th, however.
What can casinos do to prepare for reopening?
Casino establishments in the UK should take a number of steps in order to prepare for reopening.
- There is likely to be a huge demand on the day/weekend restrictions are lifted. Casinos should prioritise preparing for this eventuality by potentially restricting the number of visitors so that the premises are not packed full.
- There is a chance that premises will be allowed to reopen but with the insurance that casinos must ensure social distancing measured are maintained. Therefore casinos should come up with plans so that they can ensure the UKGC and the government that they are easily able to ensure social distancing takes place without any problems or commotions.
- The government are also likely to restrict opening times at first. It is probable that businesses which bring in customers for longer amounts of time and within close proximity to others will be the last to reopen. Casinos can make moves to ensure they are able to implement rules whereby customers have time restrictions on how long they can stay in the casino for. It is thoroughly important that casinos can showcase they are prepared for this eventuality.
- Doormen/staff will be needed to ensure rules are abided. There is a chance that casinos during day time will be much busier, especially if players are restricted as to how long they can spend in the casino.
- If temperature checks are required, then door staff will be required to carry out the action of taking tests on customers. Casinos must ensure staff are fully trained and competent to do this.
- Casinos usually require cash payments in exchange for chips, if they wish to open to the public, they may need to be able to accept card payments in exchange for chips. Casinos are likely to become cashless.
- Casinos will need to ensure specific cleanliness requirements are met. Casinos will need to implement chip cleaning as well as regular card deck changes. Hygiene and hand sanitiser measures will be key.
- Casinos should be prepared for the giving out of face masks.
It is expected that the government will work alongside the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) to ensure the safe reopening of gambling establishments. The UKGC will also inform gambling establishments as to whether they need to make any changes to their premises.
The time frame of when casinos can reopen following coronavirus depends on a variety of different outcomes. The UK government continue to struggle to control the virus. When the virus is under control it is likely that more and more industries will be able to reopen again. The economy has already been hit hard so it is fair to reason that government ministers will not continue with lock down any loner than what is necessary.
Whilst all industries just want to get back to normal again, it is only smart to do so once the virus is under control.