Midnight Curfew Continues to Hurt Scottish Casinos

The pandemic continues and face it, does anyone really know exactly what we can and can’t do? This week it was Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to lay out what will happen from July 19. Her announcements resulted in a bit of unwelcome news for Scotland’s hospitality venues and that includes the already hard-hit casinos.

The bad news is that casinos will have to close at midnight. Now considering that 50 per cent of casino income tends to come after 10pm, it’s another massive blow for the industry. It’s bad news for everyone, from those who attend casinos to those who own them and work for them.

There are over 700 people employed by Scottish casinos. The announcement will again raise fears that redundancies may have to take place. It’ll also reduce the amount of tax that is paid to the Treasury, presently around £30 million a year.

The decision to close casinos at midnight continues to puzzle the industry. Just why are they being targeted in such a way? Earlier in 2021, Dr Lisa Ackerley, who is a chartered environmental health practitioner, produced an independent report into the subject. It said that due to anti-Covid measures introduced, casinos were “as safe, if not safer,” than other venues in the hospitality industry.

Upset by the shock decision is Michael Dugher. He’s the chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC). Speaking about the announcement he said: “Scottish casino operators have once again had the rug pulled from under their feet by this bizarre decision.”

He believes that having to close at midnight is “disastrous for casinos.” The chief executive believed that as restrictions were due to be relaxed, the curfew was going to be removed but sadly that is not the case. Closing at such a time is “economically self-harming,” says Dugher. His view is that the decision “shows a complete misunderstanding of the casino industry.”

Mr Dugher believes this is the latest of “a series of inexplicable decisions made by politicians within the past year.” Too many times in his opinion, the goalposts have changed, and this is “grossly unfair” on all those who have taken steps to provide a Covid-safe environment for customers and staff. He called on Nicola Sturgeon to “re-think this decision as soon as possible.”

Being able to open is a plus of course, that’s not always been the case during this pandemic. Having to leave one at midnight is not ideal though. The move shows a lack of knowledge of the casino industry by the Scottish Government. Have they seen the steps that have been taken and if the answer is yes, why continue with the midnight curfew?