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BGC calls on MSPs to fight casino decision

BGC calls on MSPs to fight Scottish Government decision to place casinos in Level 2 of Covid restrictions

Holyrood politicians have been urged to fight the Scottish Government’s decision to close casinos in their latest Covid crackdown.

Under measures unveiled by Nicola Sturgeon, the venues have been included in a list of businesses which must shut their doors if they are in Level 2 regions.

That is despite the fact that other hospitality businesses, such as pubs, are being allowed to stay open and there is no evidence that casinos contribute to the spread of the virus.

Scotland’s First Minister announced on Thursday that most of the country is being placed in Level 2 or 3, meaning all 11 casinos – which employ 700 people and pay £30m a year in tax – will be closed from Monday.

In a letter to Members of the Scottish Parliament, the Betting and Gaming Council made clear there was “no scientific basis” for the move and called on them to fight it.

The standards body said: “Casinos have been operating safely across Scotland since they re-opened in August. Across the whole of the UK, casinos have had over 400,000 visits from over 135,000 customers since re-opening with just 2 customers having tested positively for the virus. Neither have been in Scotland.

“The proposal to include casinos within Level 2 of the new 5 level systems marks a change from their current treatment by the Scottish Government – whereby casinos are open alongside other hospitality venues until 6pm asides from in the Central Belt, where they must close. There is no scientific basis for this change in approach and puts the sector at odds with other businesses within the leisure and hospitality sphere.

“We would ask that you put forward the utmost challenge to this proposal which has no foundation, but puts the livelihoods of the over 700 staff directly employed by the 11 casinos operating in Scotland at risk, not to mention the many thousands of jobs impacted within the supply chain.”

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “Thanks to measures such as perspex screens, strict social distancing and track and trace systems, casinos have been operating safely since August.

“The simple fact is there is no evidence that they contribute to the spread of Covid, so closing them makes no sense – especially when other parts of the hospitality sector in Scotland are being allowed to stay open.

“I would urge the Scottish Government to think again, allow casinos to operate safely and make a vital contribution to the UK economy.”

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