Casinos in England are set to reopen on Saturday, but one of the country’s big three isn’t ready to gamble just yet.
Grosvenor Casinos and Genting will unveil their safety measures on Aug. 1, but Aspers is still COVID-proofing its four venues. News of the delay was posted on its website this week.
Aspers has prepared a COVID-19 risk assessment in line with Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) guidelines. However, the management team is still finalizing the reopening strategy.
Long Wait Comes to an End
It’s been more than four months since casinos in the UK closed due to COVID-19. Grosvenor Casino’s parent company, The Rank Group, said the shutdown cost them £10 million/$12.2 million per month.
In its role as an industry trade body, the BGC was in constant communication with the government. As other parts of the leisure industry reopened in June, BGC Chief Executive Michal Dugher said casinos must be afforded the same opportunity.
We'll be OPENING our doors in select clubs across England on 1st August! 🙌
Before you come and visit, check out this video where @mrdavidhaye shows the changes we’re making. Our priority is keeping you and our team safe so that we can all enjoy the experience. #GrosvenorWithYou pic.twitter.com/cAEORqRkAU
— Grosvenor Casinos (@GrosvenorCasino) July 20, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally obliged in mid-July, telling casino operators in England they can reopen on Aug. 1. Due to the devolution of power in the UK, Johnson’s mandate doesn’t extend to Scotland and Wales.
As such, casinos in England will get back to business this weekend, but their counterparts in Scotland and Wales will remain closed.
COVID-19 Creates New Normal for Casinos
English casino operators have had a chance to learn from the successes and failures in other countries, and customers will be greeted with a variety of safety measures.
Las Vegas initially tried a relaxed approach. Patrons weren’t required to wear face masks and social distancing wasn’t strictly enforced away from gaming tables.
A spike in infections subsequently forced the Nevada Gaming Control Board to issue new regulations, including the wearing of masks.
Rules of Play
When Grosvenor and Genting casinos in England open this weekend, the following rules will be in place:
- Poker tournaments won’t be available
- Poker cash games won’t be available at Genting Casinos — Grosvenor and Aspers have yet to announce their plans
- All visitors will be required to show a valid form of ID
- Social distancing and one-way systems will be in place
- Glass screens will be in place at gaming tables
- Players must remain seated at all times at gaming tables
- The number of players per table will be limited – in most cases it will be three people per table
- Minimum stakes at certain tables will be higher than normal
- Casinos will operate with limited capacity – approximately 50% of their maximum
- Hand sanitizer stations will be available, as will face masks
- Face masks are not mandatory
- Food and drink must be ordered at a table or via apps
Things Can Only Get Better
The current measures may force some people to rethink a trip to their local casino. Although operators have tried to maintain a certain degree of normalcy, the experience may not suit some.
For those people, the Czech Republic and Vietnam will offer some light. Casinos in both countries initially reopened with tight controls. However, following a drop in infection rates, rules on face masks have been lifted.
Moreover, the Czech Republic’s King’s Casino Rozvadov has been hosting poker tournaments for a month now.
Therefore, the measures in place can and will change. For now, the reopening of casinos in England is the first important step in helping the industry recover from the impact of COVID-19.