After the novel coronavirus infection spread across the United Kingdom, the government decided to ban casinos and betting shops due to the high risk of contracting the virus.
After months of halted operations, the sector has finally received government approval to resume operations. However, the news could be too late for many employees of Genting UK, a large casino holding operating luxury venues all across the country.
Last Friday, the prime minister Boris Johnson announced the launch of the last re-opening phase of the UK economy. One of the world’s largest markets has been shut down for a lengthy period of time due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the highest death and infection rate in Europe, the nation struggled to keep the spread of the virus under control. Amid the soaring number of new infections, the government was forced to cease operations of many businesses, including gambling. The latter came under a major hit as indoor venues were declared one of the most dangerous places in terms of COVID contraction. Therefore, the entire industry has since been dependent on online operations.
Naturally, casinos were not the only victims of massive closures occurring across the United Kingdom. Yet, physical venues, unlike real money casino sites, were forced to completely stop operations, leaving businesses with thousands of employees on a standstill for months. Notably, the uncertainty and mixed messages by the government led many businesses to closure whilst others were forced to reduce the number of staff members with an immediate effect.
Interestingly, betting shops received permission to open last month. Casino businesses protested unfairness and despite every necessary safety measure being deployed at venues, including sanitizers and thermal screening, they were still not allowed to resume operations. Additionally, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has been lobbying for reopening of casinos since early June. They represented more than 12 thousand English workers employed in the sector. Those have been left without incomes since March when the pandemic erupted in the United Kingdom.
On Friday, following the announcement from Number 10, the Betting and Gaming Council called on the Welsh and Scottish local governments to end uncertainty and make clear messages. Over 2 thousand casino workers in those areas of the United Kingdom are left without precise information regarding the opening of the sector in Wales and Scotland. Therefore, these people still have no idea when they might be going back to work.
Despite the positive news on Friday, one of the country’s largest operators, Genting UK will be significantly reducing the number of workers. Over 1642 workers of the company will receive reduced salaries in the coming months as Genting struggles to return profitable revenues. They said that the change is coming due to the months of halted operations, reduced demand and the shift in the operating model. The vast majority of those on reduced payrolls will not go back to work immediately. In fact, they might not be going back at all. However, Genting UK stated, that they are doing everything they can to bring those individuals back to their workplaces as soon as possible.
The company also declared that they have relied on the government’s job retention scheme. The latter is a state assistance program during the novel coronavirus pandemic which pays the salaries of employees who have been put on unpaid leaves. This on one hand helps employees to maintain their incomes, whilst aiding businesses unable to pay salaries due to the pandemic. However, Genting UK declared, that many positions at their venues might disappear forever. Therefore, the job retention scheme could not be beneficial for them in the long run.
The problems at Genting were not surprising as the company announced last month about the potential permanent closure of their casino venues in Bristol, Torquay and Margate. They had stated, that regardless of the government’s announcement, these venues would probably not be able to continue operations. Genting’s UK division’s head Paul Wilcock openly stated that the company was considering some very difficult scenarios.
One other victim of the COVID-19 pandemic is Genting’s newly rebranded poker series. After lots of hard work and negotiations, Genting had just recently rebranded their poker branch, promising plenty of news within the UK market. However, the company now says, that this division will not be coming back after reopening.
The United Kingdom is not the only country where the Malaysian megacorporation is experiencing significant difficulties. The company’s Singapore branch was forced to fire over 2 thousand employees due to the plummeting revenues and the dropping interest in the sector.
With the UK economy expected to experience unprecedented hit this year, the future of many industries is rather uncertain. One such sector is gambling which has gone through a lengthy pause. The companies within the industry are trying their best to recover with minimal losses, but as new challenges unfold, many other operators might share the fate of Genting UK.