Monday 16 November: After weeks of closure and with hundreds of jobs at risk, the casino industry in Scotland has joined forces to urge the Scottish Government to change its current tiering restrictions which are forcing venues to remain closed.
11 casino venues in Scotland which support more than 700 jobs in Aberdeen, Dundee Edinburgh and Glasgow, have launched a petition encouraging its customers to write to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to enable the recovery of the sector by allowing casinos to open in Level 2.
Led by Scotland’s largest casino operator, Grosvenor Casinos and with the support of Genting Casinos, Caesars Entertainment and trade association Betting and Gaming Council, ‘The Chips Are Down: Save Our Casinos, Save Our Jobs’ campaign points to the belief that the casino industry is being unfairly singled out.
Whilst pubs, bars, restaurants and cinemas are able to continue to trade in Level 2 or below, the shutters came down on casino venues when the Scotland Strategic Framework was announced, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.
Casinos are stressing the urgent need for the Scottish Government to lift the current restrictions imposed and allow venues to open in Level 2, and are asking the government to better understand the evidence which clearly points to casinos as ultra-safe venues.
Jonathon Swaine, Managing Director of Grosvenor Casinos, said: “We cannot stress enough how damaging it is that casinos across Scotland are being imposed with these arbitrary restrictions. As an industry we provide ultra-safe venues for colleagues and customers to visit. There is not a shred of scientific evidence which supports the decision to keep casinos closed in Level 2 while other hospitality venues are able to stay open.
“If Scottish casinos are forced to remain closed it will have a devastating impact on those customers who enjoy their local venues as a community hub, on team members who will lose their jobs, on the local suppliers it serves, on the charities that they are proud to support, as well as on the wider economy which will lose millions of pounds in tax receipts.”
Out of 30,000 unique admissions through the doors since reopening in August, there has been just one recorded case of coronavirus transmission within any casino in Scotland, with 87% of casino customers saying that they feel safe in a casino compared to other entertainment and hospitality venues.*
Casino businesses have invested millions of pounds to ensure venues are safe for its colleagues and customers to play, installing PPE such as plexiglass screens between gaming tables, ID scanning technology upon entry, hand sanitiser stations and social distancing signage throughout venues.
The casino industry in Scotland contributed £30m in tax a year to the UK economy, but the continued and unjustified closure of casinos in Scotland is threatening to shut their doors for good.
Michael Dugher, Chief Executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “Casinos in Scotland safely re-opened in August, with excellent anti-Covid measures in place, and there is absolutely no evidence that they contribute to the spread of virus.
“Closing them makes no sense, especially when other parts of the hospitality sector are being allowed to stay open. That’s why the industry is rallying together to urge the Scottish Government to think again, remove casinos from Level 2 and let them get back to business.”
To add your support to ‘The Chips Are Down: Save Our Casinos, Save Our Jobs’ campaign petition and for more information www.savecasinossavejobs.com
Grosvenor Casino Aberdeen Case Studies
Igor Zydek, a 35-year-old Dad of one and General Manager at Grosvenor Casino Aberdeen, who lives in the Bridge of Don and has worked for the company for 14 years, said:
“The current situation with the closures is really affecting me. I feel uncertain about the future and I am worried about my team, the future of the business and the industry for that matter. It makes me disheartened that all our effort to make our venues in Scotland ultra COVID safe is not being appreciated. My staff are deeply concerned about how the business will look in the future and remind me often about how much they miss the community we have created here. They miss their colleagues and being able to socialise and have fun while they work.
“I know our customers feel the same way. We are perceived as a late-night destination, but our casino is much more than that. We’re part of a wider community where people come to see each other and they see our venue as a safe place to do so. My biggest worry about this situation is the lack of clarity we have from the Scottish Government. We have gone above and beyond in terms of health and safety in our venues, but other operators are having restrictions loosened up whereas we are asked to close altogether.”
Duncan Furness, a 63-year-old Dad of three and Senior Dealer at Grosvenor Casino Aberdeen, who lives in the city and has worked for the company for 10 years, said:
“The closure of our casino in Aberdeen is having a huge impact on me. To be frank I am getting increasingly fed up that our casino is closed in current restrictions and it really should not be, we have gone above and beyond to ensure our customers and our staff are safe. I miss our customers and meeting people and having the conversations that are part of everyday life.
“My colleagues certainly feel the same and our team across the board are getting increasingly anxious that the closures will continue and the impact this will have on them and their ability to support their families. Casinos are not just a place to come and place a bet it is a place where people come and meet socially. There is a lot of groups that come together at the casino.”
Grosvenor Casino Dundee Case Study
Andrew Miller, a 30-year-old Dad of two and General Manager at Grosvenor Casino Dundee, who lives in Anstruther, Fife, and has worked with the company for six years, said:
“The current closure of the casino has put a lot of pressure on our family life with the uncertainty of what could happen in the future. It creates a lot of pressure in the workplace too.
“The impact the closures are having on the staff I would say is causing a lot of uncertainty. Just as our colleagues were trying to get back to normality, we had to close once again. To see the team have to go through that experience and seeing how it’s going to affect them is difficult.
“My biggest fear of the closures for the casino industry would be that they would go so far as to end a lot of the industry. They could result in mass closures across the country and companies could fall under the pressures of not being able to operate. At the end of the day, it is our livelihoods at stake.
“What I would like is for us to be treated fairly across the board as I believe our safety measures are far better and far more controlled than most other businesses out there in the UK.”
Grosvenor Casino Edinburgh Maybury case studies
Mark McCluskey, a 40-year-old Dad of one and Operations Manager at Grosvenor Casino Edinburgh Maybury, who lives in Glasgow and has worked with the company for six years, said:
“It has been tough at times recently and I'm obviously thinking about my employment, the employment of my friends and my team. There’s been unfortunate cases of redundancies throughout the industry, so there’s an underlying negativity there, a fear and anxiety. Most people here are very customer orientated, very sociable, amiable team members, so to take them away from that for prolonged periods of time, that can be really challenging.
“My biggest fear would be that the casino industry itself doesn’t recover. It has taken an enormous hit and it has been an exceptionally long time, over 8 months now, without trading properly. People who I know who have worked in the industry for a long time will now find themselves without jobs. It is very bleak.”
Vince Harvie, a 37-year-old Cashier at Grosvenor Casino Edinburgh Maybury, who has worked with the company for 14 years, said:
“The casino closing has had a dramatic impact on me and my life. I’m currently furloughed which obviously means I’m only getting paid 80 percent of what I normally would. Lockdown is having a big impact on my colleagues as well. There are some people who work here, and they don’t have any outlet other than seeing their friends at work. It is taking a dramatic toll on their mental health.
“My biggest worry about the closure of casinos right now is my job prospects. Jobs are hard to come by in this climate. If casinos continue to be locked down like this, it is inevitable that sooner or later we are going to have some very difficult questions to answer and some difficult choices to make. And that’s a day that I dread.”
Grosvenor Casinos Glasgow Case Studies
Paul Strachan, a 36-year-old Gaming Supervisor at Grosvenor Casino Glasgow Riverboat, who lives in Kilmarnock and has worked with the company for 15 years, said:
“This situation is really tough, and it’s having a huge effect on me, especially mentally. I love my job and just want to be able to go to work. I am fortunate that my wife is still working but that is not the case with some of our staff.
“We have a lot of couples working together in our casino which means both are currently not working. These tough times are being felt across the team at our casino. We are a close-knit group, so we have all stayed in touch, which is nice, but everyone is struggling through this hard time. Our customers are included in this too. We spoke to them when they returned initially and they were excited to see some friendly faces, but now we are forced to close and we’re back to square one.
“My biggest worry about the situation and its ramifications is job security. I have been in this industry for fifteen years and the longer we are closed the more worried and anxious I am about the future. The long-term effects of this could be disastrous. I would like us to work alongside the government to get casinos open again across the country and for us to be allowed to open in Level 2 restrictions much like others in the hospitality industry.”
Katrina Mitchell, a 30-year-old F&B Supervisor at Grosvenor Casino Glasgow Merchant City, who lives in Glasgow and has worked with the company for 15 years said:
“The closures have impacted me a great deal. Not being able to work and the worry of job security but also as I have worked here for over fifteen years, it is more like a family and not being able to see some of my favourite people is really tough.
“We are a close group and I know my colleagues all share the same worries. It has been frustrating because we all worked so hard to make our venues safe for customers so when we had to close again it has hit everyone hard.
“Customers feel the same way too. We get customers ringing everyday asking if we are going to reopen. When we are open, a lot of customers will come in to for a chat or a coffee; it is not just for the leisure aspect, it is a community. We value this community and put a huge amount of safety measures in place to protect it, so it feels unfair and that casinos are being penalised and not allowed to open in Level 2 restrictions.”
Debbie Johnstone, a 48-year-old Mum of one and General Manager at Grosvenor Casino Glasgow Merchant City, who lives in Glasgow and worked with the company for 20 years, said:
“This situation has been challenging, it’s feels like it’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to welcome customers through our doors. For me personally with our business not being able to open, I miss our old and new customers and I miss my team. I think all of us here feel that worry about job security, none of us expected for the closures to last this long and I see the situation is really starting to take its toll. For our customers, the closures are equally tough. A lot of them come in regularly throughout the week and meet up with their friends, they see it something to look forward to and more importantly it is a place they feel safe.
“My biggest worry is the length of time we have been closed now and how we need to get business up and running as soon as possible for the sake of our team and for the customers. With all the measures we have put in place as a company, I am totally sure that we are a super safe environment. All we want is to be treated fairly and be allowed to open along with other hospitality industries in Level 2.”
About Grosvenor Casinos
Grosvenor Casinos is part of The Rank Group Plc, a leading European gaming business, based in the UK and listed on the London Stock Exchange. Rank Group owns Grosvenor Casinos, the largest UK casino operator with 52 casinos nationwide and Mecca Bingo, the UK's leading bingo operator.
For more information on Rank Group, please call the head office on +44 (0)1628 504000 or visit www.rank.com.
The Rank Group Plc is committed to the promotion of responsible gaming practices and works hard to ensure a positive leisure experience for all customers. For more details on The Rank Group Plc’s policies on responsible gambling please visit www.rank.com/responsibility.