David Williams exclusive Removal of hugely damaging curfew key to casino reopenings

The Rank Group director of public affairs David Williams has welcomed the removal of the 10pm curfew that limited UK casino opening hours in 2020.

Even though casinos were eventually closed again during the country’s third lockdown, revenue was hampered even during its open periods of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the limit on opening hours.

And Williams has given UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new roadmap for reopening a “cautious welcome,” with betting shops due to reopen on 12 April and casinos 17 May.

A key part of that plan, he says, is the removal of the curfew, while he has welcomed being included as part of the wider hospitality sector.

The Rank Group operates Grosvenor Casinos and Williams exclusively told Gambling Insider: “We’re giving a cautious welcome to the Prime Minister’s roadmap for reopening. In recent weeks we were determined to make the point that casinos had to remain hitched to the wider hospitality sector.

“Many of the frustrations of 2020 were borne out of the unfair and illogical carving out of our venues from the rest of hospitality, but that was corrected late last year and we’re pleased that we’re in the pack again now.

“A key change is the removal of the curfew. It was hugely damaging to casinos last year so the fact we’ve seen it condemned to the scrap heap is very good news.”

The Rank Group director did urge caution, however, warning there is still “a long way to go” until May, given the setbacks casinos already faced with further closures after reopening in 2020.

He added: “Robust scientific evidence confirms our belief that casinos are at the top of the tree when it comes to COVID-secure status.

“Our colleagues are straining at the leash to get back to doing what they do best without the most onerous constraints of last year, so of course we wish we could reopen more swiftly, but we’re realistic too.

“There’s still a long way to go until mid May, hence our caution, but providing there are no further setbacks, we’ll be looking forward to giving our customers the best – and safest – experience around when we finally get to unlock our doors.”

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