Aspers is reopening another of its casinos in England on Friday but, like its counterparts, it will be subject to strict COVID-19 restrictions.
The company’s Milton Keynes casino isn’t its biggest — that honor goes to the recently opened Aspers Stratford — but, it has hosted various poker festivals in recent years, including the 2019 PokerStars Moneymaker Road to PSPC.
Poker is expected to return when the doors reopen on Oct. 30, as will slots and table games. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, Aspers Casino MK will only be open from 10am to 10pm each day.
Back in Business
Getting back to some level of normality has been seven months in the making for Aspers. Unlike Grosvenor and Genting, the company delayed the reopening of its casinos in England. However, with the government’s emergency furlough scheme coming to an end, wages have become another expense to consider alongside lost revenue.
Like Aspers Stratford, Aspers MK has instituted new COVID-19 safety measures. Social distancing markers, hand sanitizer stations, and screens will all be in place. The venue will also have enhanced cleaning routines that focus on communal areas, betting chips, and cards.
Reopening under the current conditions is a positive step, even as other parts of England are starting to strain under the weight of government restrictions. Cities in northern England are pushing back against what some see as draconian measures that threaten businesses.
There has also been public outcry in Wales after a fresh set of restrictions have been put into place. Grocery stores remain open, but certain products have been been labeled as being off-limits (see image below).
Why the sale of certain items is more of a risk than others is unclear, and has prompted more than 35,000 people (over 1% of the country’s population) to sign a petition against the restrictions in just 24 hours.
Casinos in England Still in Danger
The unrest spreading across all parts of the UK has been matched by grave predictions for the gambling industry.
Although online operators have thrived during the pandemic, racecourses, betting shops, and casinos have lost large sums of money. At one point during the early stages of the pandemic, the Rank Group was losing £10 million/$13 million a month.
Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) chief executive Michael Dugher has urged the government to reverse what he calls “unfair and unnecessary” restrictions that are forcing Aspers, and other casinos, to operate on significantly reduced schedules.
Whatever the conditions, Casino MK General Manager Nigel Hartland is summoning up a bit of the old British bulldog spirit. With a stiff upper lip and a focus on keeping customers safe, another casino in England will reopen this week.