Buzz Bingo, a major UK operator, is permanently closing 26 retail venues due to the COVID-19 uncertainty while casinos in the country continue to pressure the government for the right to resume business.
On Wednesday 15, Buzz Bingo announced that 26 of its 117 bingo halls wouldn’t be reopening when the other 91 venues restart operations on August 6. The locations, which previously run under the Gala Bingo brand, were all closed on March 21 following the government’s order to close all non-essential retail operations to curb the spread of COVID-19.
About 573 jobs will disappear plus other 26 halls targeted for closure. Buzz Bingo said the decision was regrettable but necessary given the “unsustainable operating environment for the foreseeable future,” which includes not just capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements, but also a general wariness among customers, particularly older folks that visit bingo halls.
UK casino operators have additionally yet to reopen their shuttered sites to the public, despite betting shops having been cleared to resume operations over one month ago. Matt Rudd, who manages the Grosvenor Casino in Broad Street, Birmingham, recently penned an op-ed for the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) in which he said “the longer we remain closed, the more anxious I become.”
Rudd said he had been fielding calls from customers who “also can’t understand” the government’s reluctance to issue gambling operators the green light to reopen. Rudd claimed that a recent visit by “various government officials” to Grosvenor’s Rialto casino in London’s Leicester Square “went well, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that we receive some good news really soon.”
Scotland’s bookies recently received positive news after their government agreed to lift what the BGC had termed “draconian” COVID-19 restrictions – no chairs, functional gaming machines or live racing broadcasts – that were more tougher than what their English peers were required to impose as a condition for resuming business.
The restrictions had allegedly contributed to a 95% drop in Scottish bookmakers’ betting turnover, however, the BGC reported late last week that the requirements will be cut to a level comparable to England’s as of July 22.
BGC Chief Executive Officer, Michel Dugher, celebrated the Scottish government’s decision, adding that betting shops could now do their part to help “kickstart the economy.”