Despite the challenges that still lie ahead for casinos, we can't wait to get back to business.

At long last, the re-opening of casinos across the UK is a matter of days away.

On May 17, venues in England, Wales and Scotland will finally get back to business for the first time since last year and I, for one, cannot wait.

I’m sure the sense of excitement and anticipation is exactly the same for our customers, who have been deprived the entertainment that we provide these past few months.

At Genting, the pre-opening excitement is palpable. We are fortunate to have a loyal team of nearly 4000 members, many of whom have been in the casino business for the majority of their working lives. It’s great see so many people who work in casinos live and breathe the business and they are delighted and excited to be back to work next week.

In England, Genting are pleased to be opening without any curfew restrictions, although we will obviously still be observing strict anti-Covid rules in all our clubs to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. These include hand sanitisers, Perspex screens on gaming tables, strict social distancing rules, best-in-class track and trace systems and limits on player numbers. Masks will also be compulsory and our clubs will be thoroughly cleaned throughout the day.

In Scotland, we are opening with a 10.30pm curfew. That’s frustrating, given our sector-leading anti-Covid measures and our willingness to embrace restrictions on the sale of alcohol and venue capacity. It’s been a long, hard-fought battle since last autumn to persuade the Scottish Government to treat casinos fairly and we will carry on making the case on behalf of our colleagues and customers.

Our long-awaited re-opening now kickstarts the hard work of getting our business and the casino sector as a whole back on its feet as quickly as possible. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll and we all have a long road back to recovery, let alone prosperity. The great news, however, is that when we briefly were able to re-open last year, our customers flocked back to our land-based casinos once again. This has given us the confidence to believe that as the pandemic fades, customer confidence will grow, and we expect revenue and attendances to come back strongly towards the end of the year.

In the meantime, we’re not quite out of the woods, and our focus on being Covid-secure will remain an absolute priority. No expense has been spared in keeping both our customers and team members safe and all our clubs will have risk-assessed every aspect of their businesses in the run-up to re-opening day.

It has of course been a long lay-off and even the most experienced team members have needed to ensure their skills are up to scratch. As I write this, our croupiers are in clubs practicing their roulette and card dealing skills to make sure they can provide our customers with the best possible service.

Meanwhile, colleagues in other parts of the business are getting their heads back in the game with a comprehensive briefing and retraining programme, covering both practical skills and, of course, a real focus on safer gambling processes and procedures.

So, despite all the challenges ahead, it’s going to be great to be open again, doing what we do best, giving our customers a safe, fun environment to have a great night out.

Peter Chiswell is Genting’s Operations Director in the North

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