BGC hits back at Welsh First Minister’s casinos and nightclubs comparison

The Betting and Gaming Council has called out comments made by Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, after he “likened casinos to nightclubs in risk profile for the spreading of coronavirus”.

Making the statement during a Facebook Live session this week, the industry standards body contests the assertion and has called on the First Minister and members of Public Health Wales to visit a local casino to see the COVID-safe measures in place.

The comments came in response to questions about potential casino reopenings, with Drakeford stating: “We are down to quite a small number of places now that we have not been able to reopen in Wales, and of course we will go on thinking about them and seeing if there’s anything we can do.

“But just as I described nightclubs as places that are generally dark and intimate, well casinos are the same aren’t they? You know, they are places where people are close to one another and where the atmosphere is part of the product that is on offer.

“And the atmosphere is one in which there are additional risks of coronavirus spreading, so we will think carefully about casinos and the small number of other places that cannot reopen as part of the current three week review.” 

In a letter submitted today, Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive, noted his strong disagreement with the comparison calling it “neither true, nor fair” and highlighted the impact that the uncertainty was having on the approximately 300 staff employed across the four casinos in the country.

 “Casinos are not remotely like nightclubs and have invested heavily to ensure that our venues are safe for both our colleagues and customers alike,” Dugher said.

“Ensuring the safety of our staff and customers is paramount, and the extensive work undertaken by the sector to ensure that casinos are ready to re-open safely shows this.

“Our members have worked closely with public health bodies and been reassured that the measures in place, such as Perspex screens, sanitisation equipment, and sophisticated track and trace systems, as well as strong social distancing measures are excellent.

“The four casinos operating in Wales are ready and eager to re-open safely to the public and to play their part in re-building the economy.”