Genting is set to cease all live poker operations in the UK and close at least three of its casinos as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
News of the closures broke on Tuesday when a Genting cardroom manager posted a farewell message on Facebook.
The company hasn’t officially commented on the matter as of the time of this writing. However, COO of Genting UK, Paul Willcock, recently said “very difficult” decisions were necessary to ensure the company’s survival.
Coronavirus Locks Down Genting Poker Rooms
Like all casino operators in the UK, Genting was forced to close its venues due to coronavirus. The doors were locked on March 21 and have stayed that way ever since.
In line with the British government’s Job Retention Scheme, Genting UK furloughed the “vast majority” of its 4,000 staff. It also announced it will maintain “radio silence” until normal service resumes.
Willcock broke that silence earlier this month when he issued a statement to employees.
“The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges. I am therefore forced to contemplate some very difficult options to ensure survival,” Willcock said in the statement.
These difficult decisions are expected to include the permanent closure of Genting casinos in Bristol, Margate, and Torquay. In addition to shuttering three venues, poker rooms in all Genting UK casinos will cease operations.
“Well, it’s been emotional. Thank you to all our poker players, hope you have a great experience. Thoughts to all my colleagues (family) that didn’t deserve this (although in current climate it was kind of expected) you are all superstars and proud to have had you in our team. Onwards and upwards,” reads the Facebook post from a Genting cardroom manager.
British Poker Community Reacts to Loss
Poker pro and circuit regular Jeff Kimber was quick to comment on the news. Despite being an ambassador for Grosvenor Casinos, Kimber remarked on the impact Genting’s closing will have on the British poker scene.
“Very sad for the Genting poker staff, some good ones gone there. GPS events were great back in the day. Trips to Sheffield, Birmingham, and Southend will be missed,” Kimber wrote on Facebook.
The closure of Genting poker rooms will also bring an end to the operator’s live events. The Genting Poker Series (GPS) had become one of the UK’s top mid-stakes tours since launching in 2012.
At the start of 2020, the tour added a new selection of tournaments and promised improved guarantees for low-stakes players. The impact of coronavirus couldn’t have been calculated at the time. Now, however, the company is taking stock of its options.
It may be the end of an era for Genting poker rooms in the UK, but it’s not the end for the company. The Genting Group is based in Malaysia and was founded in 1965. Today it operates integrated casino resorts in Australia, the Americas, Asia, and the UK.
In addition to various live interests, Genting has a presence online, which has helped it stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. However, with British casinos locked down until July 4, cuts are necessary. Poker is often a loss-leader for casinos, so, for Genting UK at least, that means it’s the end of an era.