Aspers has started the process of reopening its casinos in England after being in lockdown since March. The company’s flagship venue in London was the first to welcome customers on Oct. 12 but, threats of a second national lockdown could mean its return is short-lived.
News of the reopening was posted online on Oct. 9. Despite the government giving casinos in England the green light to reopen on Aug. 15, Aspers bucked the trend and remained closed.
Now, with the government’s emergency furlough scheme coming to an end and financial support drying up, Aspers has started taking bets again.
Aspers Casino Finally Back in Business
Under the slogan “enjoy at a distance,” Aspers has implemented the following rules:
- Customers must maintain a “physical distance” at all times
- Floor markings must be followed
- Guests are asked to keep left as much as possible when walking around the casino
- Elevators are limited to two people
- Contactless payments are encouraged as much as possible
- Guests are encouraged to wash their hands regularly
- Facemasks must be worn by all guests
The facemask rule is interesting because it wouldn’t have been necessary had Aspers opened at the same time as other casinos in England. In August, venues encouraged the use of masks, but they weren’t compulsory.
Masks weren’t required at the height of the pandemic when there were more than 1,000 deaths per day. However, since the start of October, with the daily death rate averaging less than 100, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made them mandatory in most indoor settings.
Waiting Could Backfire as Casinos in England Face New Threats
Aspers is also subject to the 10pm curfew imposed on entertainment venues. As a result, it’s London venue is open from 10am to 10pm, instead of 24/7.
These restrictions will reduce the money Aspers can make. However, the decision to prolong its own closure may have more significant consequences in the coming weeks. Reports from mainstream media outlets in the UK suggest a second national lockdown is possible.
Even if that doesn’t happen, England now operates on a three-tier system that means cities and counties can be put into quarantine at any moment. London, where Aspers Casino Westfield is located, is currently at the second-highest threat level. This means the owners may have to close the doors again if local infections increase.
Another lockdown would not only be a blow for Aspers, but the industry in general. Operators have already offered to stop serving alcohol to avoid the 10pm curfew, but further restrictions could be the death knell for smaller casinos.
The Rank Group, which owns Grosvenor Casinos, confirmed it lost £10 million per month during the first lockdown. Another one would inevitably incur more costs and, according to the Betting and Gaming Council, put more than 6,000 jobs at risk.
For now, Aspers Casino Stratford is back in business, but the threat of closure will remain in place for the foreseeable future.