Countries Across the World Slowly Open Casino Businesses After Corona Lockdown
Many countries across the world are set to reboot the casino industry by allowing casinos to open again after being forced to close during the corona lockdown.
Due to the ongoing corona (COVID-19) crisis, most casinos across the world were forced to temporarily shut down operations as authorities ordered the closure of all cafes, restaurants and entertainment businesses.
Needless to say, this created many problems for countries and states dependent on these businesses. Not only do governments earn tax money on gambling, there is often a whole lot more money earned across the board. When gamblers visit a casino, they might stay in a local hotel, go for a dinner and spend their cash dollars, pounds or euros on a whole set of other things.
The shutdown of casinos has therefore not only harmed the gambling industry, but also put huge strains on government budgets and local businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.
One of such areas in the world has of course been the state of Nevada, which is famous for being the most liberal state in the US when it comes to its gambling laws. The casinos in Las Vegas and Reno, as well as some mega resorts across the state and in proximity to the borders of neighbouring states, were all forced to shut down during the corona crisis.
Those missing the bright lights of Las Vegas are in luck as they might soon be able to hop on a plane to Sin City again. Governor of Nevada Steve Sisolak (D), who previously chaired the Clark County Commission which basically runs Las Vegas and is thus no stranger to the casino industry, announced last week that casinos in the state can make plans for a reopening of their businesses on 4th June.
This is a whopping 78 days after the casinos were first ordered to close down to help to slow down the spread of the novel corona virus. So far, 12 other American states have already reopened their casinos, which contributed to added pressure on the shoulders of Sisolak to follow suit.
Another factor contributing to the reopening of casinos is the massive spike in unemployment rates, which had already hit 28.2 percent in April, with even worse figures expected for May.
Nevada’s unemployment rate of 28.2 percent marked the worst score of any American state since the year 1976 when statisticians first started to gather reliable data on unemployment. With more than one out of four of the workforce out of work, it shows just how important the casino, hospitality and travel industry is to the state of Nevada.
How the reopening of Las Vegas casinos will look like is not yet known as the Nevada Gaming Control Board will hold a meeting to develop a health and safety protocol in a teleconference workshop with experts.
The big casinos in the city were delighted about the possibility to finally reopen again after two-and-a-half months. Michael Weaver, the spokesman of Wynn Resorts, said he was looking forward to work together with regulators and safety experts to ensure a safe casino reopening.
Mr Weaver was quoted by the Las Vegas Review Journal saying: “We applaud Governor Sisolak for his decision to target June 4 for opening resorts. Because of his careful, science-based approach to containing the virus, Nevada is now ready to open its economy and get people working again.”
Caesars Entertainment, another massive casino operator in the state of Nevada, had similar sentiments. Company spokesman Richard Broom said: “We are excited to welcome back guests and team members with enhanced health and safety protocols in compliance with state directives.”
Across the pond in Europe the differences between certain countries are stark. Some countries are slowly allowing the casinos to reopen, while in other countries there are no visible signs yet of any reopening.
Austria will be among the first countries in which casinos will reopen. The Alpine state currently has set a date of 28th May on which casinos could open at the earliest. The highest security precautions would still apply to casinos to prevent the virus from spreading further, as it is likely that gamblers would need to wear masks to be allowed inside the building.
In Germany, where like in the US opening of casinos are determined on state level, there has also been a stark difference between states. Bavaria for example has already opened its gambling halls on 11th May. Players visiting the Bavarian casinos do however need to wear a mask and need to keep an appropriate distance from fellow players and casino staff.
In some countries a debate is still raging whether casinos should be reopened or not. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands are two of the European nations in which this is the case.
In the Netherlands, state-owned Holland Casino, which has a monopoly on casino gambling, is set to reopen on 1st September according to plans outlined by PM Mark Rutte in which steps the country will be slowly reopened again.
However, Holland Casino and the national trade organisation representing gaming arcades and lotteries have now pressured the government to think about an earlier reopening of Holland Casino, citing the need to combat illegal gambling activities. A Holland Casino spokesman said: that “the announced reopening date is too late” which causes an “irresponsibly high risks for players” as with the casino doors closed the legal gaming operators “cannot fulfil their social mission of offering safe and responsible gaming with a focus on preventing and combating crime”.
According to local media, the responsible government minister is considering the plea of the Dutch gambling industry.
A similar discussion is held in the United Kingdom, where the BBC reported that online casino searches were at an “all-time high” during the corona crisis lockdown in the country. In some cities in the UK such as Hull, there has even been a 100 percent increase in searches according to data from Google Trends.
With no signs yet of Great Britain and Northern Ireland relaxing most corona virus measures, there have been some increased calls to address the issue. However, watchdog organisation the Gambling Commission said that while there has indeed been a rise in online gambling, there was no evidence yet of a rise in problem gambling.
Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: “We are monitoring online operators closely and if we see irresponsible behaviour we will step in immediately, suspending licences if we need to.”
According to GamCare, a British charity which seeks to help people with a gambling addiction, warned about the effects of the corona virus crisis and lockdown of people’s behaviour.
GamCare CEO Anna Hemmings told the BBC that lockdown provides for a “concerning context for people at risk”.
Ms Hemmings added that “contributing factors [to gambling problems], such as financial distress, isolation and boredom” are on the rise due to COVID-19.
Gamblers who deem themselves at risk are advised to contact Gamstop, a free service allowing players to self-exclude from online gambling sites with one simple registration. NGOs such as GamCare and Gamblers Anonymous and their equivalents in other countries are also always there for gamblers seeking help. Another option is to contact your own GP, who will also be able to get you in touch with a local charity or psychologist.