Boris Johnson's lockdown 2.0 worries casinos

Jon Pill
Posted on: November 04, 2020 02:53 PST

Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson of the United Kingdom, announced on the weekend that England would be returning to lockdown on November 5th. The lockdown will start on Thursday, November 5th, 2020. It will go on for a scheduled four weeks.

Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have their own lockdown rules in place, which determined by the various devolved powers of those countries. This lockdown will not be affecting them.

The English casino industry is viewing this Lockdown 2.0 with a great deal of worry. As recreational businesses, casinos were some of the last businesses to reopen after Lockdown 1.0. It wasn’t until late August that cardrooms were allowed to open their doors.

This means casinos have had less time to recover than most businesses and are looking at losing at least another month’s worth of action this year. It's tough times.

Business concerns

GVC, one of the biggest sports betting companies in the U.K and the owner of Ladbrokes Coral, estimates that this lockdown could cost them £37 million ($48 million).

And that’s assuming it only lasts the scheduled four weeks. Lockdown 1.0 was initially scheduled for just a few weeks. But was renewed every few weeks for months.

People went home, to work there or because they lost their jobs, on March 23rd. The country didn't start reopening until August. Extensions could happen again. And just one extension would take us perilously close to 2021.

The first lockdown saved lives. There is no doubt about that. But its effect on the economy has been brutal.

In the month of April alone, right in the middle of lockdown, the U.K's GDP shrank by 19.5%. For comparison, U.S. GDP shrank by 23.2% in the entirety of 1933, the worst year of the Great Depression.

The COVID gamble

While casinos are forced to close, that doesn’t mean an end to betting. Online options remain available. Some sports — like horseracing, for example — will even continue without audiences.

The British Horseracing Authority applauded this move, saying “The horseracing industry has worked hard to maintain the safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and work. We have done all we can to play our part and will continue to do so under the new restrictions.”

In contrast, the head of the Betting & Gaming Council, which oversees the 5.6k land-based betting shops and bookies in the U.K. said the new lockdown was “not remotely about science.”

You pays your money and takes your choice. But either way, if you’re fancy a live game of poker while you’re in London, you need to squeeze it in before midnight on Wednesday.

Featured image source: Flickr