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European land-based casinos seek reprieve from lockdowns

Land-based casinos in the UK, Belgium, and Germany are eagerly awaiting the chance to trade again after COVID-19 mandated lockdown closures.


The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world for the past year, claiming many lives and even more livelihoods in the process. While most European businesses were thrust into hard closures over the peak pandemic periods of last year, many of them have re-emerged and can start trading again.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the land-based gambling sector in key regions, including the UK, Belgium, and Germany, to name a few.

Casinos, betting shops, and arcades remain shut in these countries as the respective governments have determined that re-opening them presents a high risk for the spreading of the virus. It seems that governments may need to reassess the risks though, as these gambling businesses practice safer protocols than most other companies that are currently trading.

Belgium

The arcade business is taking a real hit under extended lockdown protocols in Belgium, despite the offer of aid from the government. The lockdown remains after a year with only a small reprieve given in the middle of 2020.

An owner of Sportland arcade, Nico Fernandez said: “We went into lockdown on March 13 in 2020 and apart from a narrow window of reopening from July to September, we have remained closed with no sign of a reopening date.”

The venues have received a tiny bit of aid over this period (10% of their net figures for 2019), while staff members have received 70% of their salaries. There is still no end in sight for when the authorities will give the gaming industry the go-ahead to open its doors.

The United Kingdom

It seems like casinos and arcades in Scotland may have to wait a while yet before they can open doors for trading. The government has mandated that casino businesses can only resume trade under level 1 lockdown restrictions, while businesses like pubs and restaurants will re-open in level 2. This is having a negative impact on 700 jobs in the small country, according to statistics.

Dr. Lisa Ackerley, known as The Hygiene Doctor, conducted an independent study of the COVID-19 protocols at Grosvenor’s Casino premises and found that the casino was perhaps safer than most pubs and restaurants were. They have spent millions of pounds upgrading their facilities with protective measures and supplying adequate staff training.

Her findings reported: “I find that there is no reason for the casino industry to be treated more harshly in terms of lockdown measures than the rest of hospitality; in fact, it can be seen that the measures are taken by casinos actually offer more protection to staff and the public. There seems no logical or scientific reason why the casino industry should be closed where pubs and restaurants are allowed to open in Scotland.”

Based upon the findings, the Grosvenor Casino has brought a strong objection to its level status, stating that the gambling market is being unfairly treated and should open under level 2, like the rest of the hospitality industry.

Germany

In Germany, the giant Gauselmann Group remains optimistic about an imminent change to its lockdown status, which should arrive just in time. Until now, the gambling company has managed to curb job losses and has continued to support its 14,000 employees across its 700 Merkur arcades and 10 casinos.

The company founder, Paul Gauselmann said: “In certain cases where short-time work would lead to extremely dramatic social hardship, we will top up the short-time work allowance. Given the size of our company, that is a considerable load, which we are bearing not only for solidarity reasons but also to secure our company.”

Thankfully, the casino company managed to negotiate its premises rentals across their facilities, and senior management all agreed to pay cuts to help fund the survival of the group.

CasinoWow round-up

For now, players have the opportunity to enjoy online casino games at a rich selection of CasinoWOW online casinos. Online gambling has been a major mainstay in the European economy and has thrived in the midst of the pandemic, thanks to its virtual qualities.

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