Scottish govt sets August date for casino reopenings

30 July 2020

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set a provisional date of 24 August for the country’s casinos and bingo halls to reopen.

As the country continues to implement phase three of its four-stage post-lockdown easing of restrictions designed to limit the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19), Sturgeon has set out a series of “indicative dates” for venues reopening.

Phase three, which assumes the virus has been suppressed and focus instead turns to containing sporadic outbreaks, requires people to wear a face covering, avoid crowded places, and remain two metres apart in public.

The indicative dates are not confirmed, meaning they may still be changed should the government decide there has not been enough of a reduction in cases across the country.

However, should cases continue to decline, casinos, bingo halls and amusement arcades will all be able to open from 24 August, provided they have enhanced hygiene measures in place. Physical distancing will also be mandatory in bingo halls.

The news was hailed by trade association the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which has been lobbying the government to set a reopening date.

The BGC noted that Scotland’s 11 casinos, which employ around 800 people, had “gone above and beyond what is required” to make the venues Covid-secure.

“They have demonstrated their commitment to ensuring the safety of their staff and customers, and it’s great that this has been recognised by the Scottish Government,” BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said.

Scottish betting shops, which reopened in 29 June, will also be able to switch gaming machines back on from 24 August. This had been another point of contention with the BGC. The government had first ordered the reopened betting shops to remove all chairs, and keep TVs and gaming machines turned off.

It then looked set to reverse this policy, before a U-turn saw it implemented in full.

“I’m also very pleased that the Scottish Government has listened to our concerns about betting shops having to switch off their gaming machines,” Dugher added. “It’s great that they will be back on again from 24 August.”

English casinos, again after lobbying from the BGC, are due to reopen on Saturday 1 August, having shut their doors from 20 May. The Welsh government, however, is yet to announce a reopening date.

“We’re already looking forward to casinos in England opening their doors again this weekend, and I hope that their Welsh colleagues will soon be receiving the same good news,” said Dugher.