Shuffle Up and Deal – Casinos in England to Reopen Following “Pointless” Delay

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Casinos in England will reopen on Saturday, Aug. 15 and, this time, the government isn’t going to make a last-minute U-turn.

Hippodrome Casino
Casinos in England, including the Hippodrome in London, will be able to reopen from Aug. 15. (Image: The Hippodrome Casino)

The official announcement was made on Thursday evening and brings to an end almost five months of inactivity for parts of the gaming industry.

Betting and Gaming Council chief executive Michael Dugher welcomed the news, but warned that irreparable damage may have already been done.

Dugher Criticizes Two-Week Delay

Casinos in England were set to reopen on Aug. 1. However, a last-minute switch meant operators had to endure what Dugher described as a “pointless two-week delay.”

The BGC asked the government to extend its furlough scheme to offset the cost of the delay. But, even with additional help, Dugher believes the sector’s long-term future is precarious.

“It is lamentable that our safe businesses had to suffer considerable hurt and expense. Casinos are not yet out of the woods though. I hope ministers will continue to work closely with the industry to provide support through this difficult period,” Dugher said in a press release.

There’s also been good news for casino operators in Scotland. Under the UK’s devolved power structure, the Scottish government controls local issues. Following news that casinos in England will reopen on Aug. 15, their Scottish counterparts will do the same on Aug. 24.

British horse racing was also given a shot in the arm on Thursday. A small number of sporting events will now be able to welcome spectators. The pilot scheme will start on Saturday with the final of the World Snooker Championship.

Horse racing had previously been earmarked as another way to “stress test” social distancing measures. Glorious Goodwood was set to a pilot event on Aug. 1, but that changed after the government’s recent U-turn.

There hasn’t been any confirmation as to whether any upcoming racing events will be selected. However, given the previous desire to use the sport as a testing ground, it’s likely something will be announced in the coming weeks.

Casinos Will Have to Play it Safe

With casinos in England set to reopen, and horse racing almost back in the saddle, the British betting industry can get back to doing what it does best. But, for the time being, at least, it won’t be business as usual.

Strict safety measures will be in place at all venues, and enforcement will be stricter than ever. The government’s recent announcement also includes tougher sanctions on those flouting the rules.

Any person not wearing facemasks where required can be fined up to £3,200/$4,150. Businesses that don’t comply with COVID-19 guidelines could be forced to pay £10,000/$13,000 or more, depending on the nature of the infraction.

So, while casinos in England will reopen tomorrow, they won’t be gambling with people’s safety.

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