Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to make a statement today (Wednesday) as to how he plans to reboot the UK economy after COVID-19, and Dugher has urged him to use this speech to also set out how and when casinos, which have been shut since the UK entered lockdown on 23 March, can reopen.
In an open letter to the Chancellor, Dugher said that the current furlough scheme is costing the government around £5m each week from the casino sector alone. He also noted that casinos last year paid an average of £5.7m each week in tax and duties.
“The UK casino sector were sorely disappointed not to be included in the list of industries allowed to reopen on 4 July,” Dugher said, referring to how pubs, restaurants, cinemas and a number of other businesses were allowed to reopen at the weekend.
“Casinos want to get back in business and once again contributing to the economy, not costing the Exchequer money. With phased reductions in wage support kicking in soon, there is however a real fear that if reopening doesn’t happen in July there will be severe damage caused to the casino industry.”
Dugher also set out his belief that casinos are ready to safely welcome customers after putting in place a number of measures to protect visitors. These include the installation of perspex screens and santisation equipment, as well as setting up track and trace systems and adhering to social distancing regulations.
“To our knowledge, casinos have met all COVID safety requirements and yet they are still not permitted to open. Having made the necessary preparations for a July reopening, casinos are ready and able to open at the earliest opportunity. We would greatly appreciate any help you can give to get our businesses back open and contributing to the UK economy,” Dugher concluded.