Aspers Casino open again but for how long?
One of England’s most popular casinos has begun the long road to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic-enforced closures by reopening.
Cards Chat reports that Aspers Casino has reopened, with the company’s flagship venue in London the first to welcome back customers on October 12, despite the threats of a second national lockdown on the cards.
News of the reopening was posted on October 9, and marks the first time the casino has reopened its doors, despite initially being given the all clear to reopen on August 15.
Aspers has implemented a number of rules to ensure the health and safety of its patrons and staff, including a physical distance between all customers at all times, floor markings, elevators limited to two people and contactless payments.
It is a requirement that face masks be worn by all guests.
The compulsory use of masks wasn’t required at the height of the pandemic, when there were more than 1000 deaths per day.
However, since the start of October, with the daily death rate averaging less than 100, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made them mandatory in most indoor settings.
Aspers is also subject to the 10pm curfew imposed on entertainment venues.
As a result, it’s London venue is open from 10am to 10pm, instead of 24/7.
These restrictions will hamper the amount of money Aspers can make, but the decision to prolong its own closure in August may have more significant consequences in the coming weeks, given the possibility of a national lockdown.
Even if that does happen, England now operates on a three-tier system that means cities and counties can be put into quarantine at any moment.
London, where Aspers Casino Westfield is located, is currently at the second-highest threat level.
This means the owners may have to close the doors again if local infections increase.
Another lockdown would not only be a blow for Aspers, but the industry in general.
Operators have already offered to stop serving alcohol to avoid the 10pm curfew, but further restrictions could be the death knell for smaller casinos.
The Rank Group, which owns Grosvenor Casinos, confirmed it lost 10 million pound per month during the first lockdown.
Another one would inevitably incur more costs and according to the Betting and Gaming Council, put more than 6,000 jobs at risk.
For now, Aspers Casino Stratford is back in business, but the threat of closure will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
William Hill to close 119 UK betting shops
Popular bookmaker William Hill said it is shutting 119 betting shops in the UK.
Yahoo News reported in August that the company, which has 1,500 UK outlets said it did not expect customers to return in the numbers seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said about 300 staff were impacted and most had been redeployed elsewhere.
William Hill said it is repaying 24.5 million pounds of UK furlough funds as trade has recovered well post-lockdown.
Its comments come as it reported pre-tax profits of 141 million pounds in the first six months of 2020, compared with a loss of 63 million pounds last year.
Its revenues fell by a third though, to 554 million pounds, reflecting the impact of lockdown and so many sporting events cancelled.
William Hill employs 7,000 people in the UK and a further 5,000 people in 9 other countries.
In a statement, the bookmaker said: “We anticipate that longer term retail footfall will not return to pre-COVID levels and 119 UK shops will remain closed following early lease breaks, with the majority of colleagues redeployed within the estate.”
Fewer than 20 people will not be redeployed.
The company said trading had been strong before the pandemic, but when the lockdown came in, it had controlled costs “effectively” and was recovering well.
Its presence on the High Street and town centres was already receding.
Last year, William Hill said it was cutting 700 shops after new regulations cut the size of a stake in fixed-odds betting terminals, gaming machines in shops, from 100 pounds to 2 pounds.
Partner at Begbies Traynor Julie Palmer said a spike in bored consumers trying online gaming provided some respite and much-needed revenue for the company to target.
“The business will need to continue developing its technology platform and product offering if it is to regain some of the lost revenue from the past few months, in what is a competitive market.”