Casinos are “standing by” to aid the UK’s economic recovery, but must be allowed to resume the action again by the close of July maintains the Betting and Gaming Council.
Continuing to mount pressure on the government to reopen casinos this month, venues were dealt a blow after being told they would not be permitted to return to action when other parts of the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industry could do so on July 4.
Having been closed since March 23 as part of the national effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, a number of measures have since been implemented including perspex screens, hand sanitisers, sophisticated track and tracing systems and strict social distancing rules.
The latest plea comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces that businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector are to benefit from a cut in VAT from 20 per cent to 5 per cent until January 12.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, welcomed the move, as well as Sunak’s £1,000 job retention bonus for companies that bring staff back off furlough.
However, it was asserted that the government’s next move must be to let casinos re-open their doors and start contributing again to the UK economy.
Dugher said: “We strongly welcomed the introduction of the furlough scheme in March, and the Chancellor’s decision to extend it until the end of October, as a lifeline for our members in the leisure, entertainment and hospitality industries and the tens of thousands of people they employ.
“The announcement of a £1,000 job retention bonus for every furloughed worker brought back and continuously employed through to January is therefore good news and will help our members as they navigate their way out of lockdown.
“The Chancellor’s decision to cut VAT for the hospitality and tourism sectors from 20 per cent to 5 per cent for the next six months will potentially be an enormous boost for bingo halls and casinos.
“However, in order to take advantage of this new policy, casinos must be given the green light to re-open as quickly as possible in July. At the moment, casinos are costing the Exchequer around £5m a week while they are closed. Last year, they paid £5.7m a week in tax.
“Casinos are part of our hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries, and they are also a significant attraction for tourists. They can reopen safely and it’s time now to let them do so. Casinos are standing by to reopen to aid the economic recovery”.