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Casino industry joins forces to urge government to let them reopen

Igor Zydek is general manager at Aberdeen's  Grosvenor Casinos.
Igor Zydek is general manager at Aberdeen's Grosvenor Casinos.

The casino industry has joined forces to urge the Scottish government to lift restrictions and allow venues to reopen in tier 2.

Following weeks of closure and hundreds of jobs at risk, the campaign led by Scotland’s largest casino operator Grosvenor Casinos, believes the industry is being unfairly singled out.

Whilst pubs, bars, restaurants and cinemas are able to continue to trade in tier 2 or below, casinos were forced to close.

Igor Zydek is manager of the Grosvenor Casino in Aberdeen and has worked for the company for 14 years.

The 35-year-old said: “The current situation with the closures is really affecting me. I feel uncertain about the future and I am worried about my team, the future of the business and the industry for that matter.

“It makes me disheartened that all our effort to make our venues in Scotland ultra Covid-19 safe is not being appreciated.

“My biggest worry about this situation is the lack of clarity we have from the Scottish Government.

“We have gone above and beyond in terms of health and safety in our venues, but other operators are having restrictions loosened up whereas we are asked to close altogether.”

His colleague, Duncan Furness, 63, has worked at the casino for 10 years as a senior dealer.

Duncan Furness has been with the company for 10 years as a senior dealer.

He added: “The closure of our casino in Aberdeen is having a huge impact on me. I miss our customers and meeting people and having the conversations that are part of everyday life.

“My colleagues certainly feel the same and our team across the board are getting increasingly anxious that the closures will continue and the impact this will have on them and their ability to support their families.”

The 11 casino venues have launched a petition encouraging customers to write to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Backed by Genting Casinos, Caesars Entertainment and trade association Betting and Gaming Council The Chips Are Down: Save Our Casinos, Save Our Jobs campaign is stressing the “urgent need” for a re-evaluation of the current framework.

Out of 30,000 unique admissions through the doors since reopening in August, there has been just one recorded case of coronavirus transmission within any casino in Scotland.

Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Grosvenor Casinos, said: “We cannot stress enough how damaging it is that casinos across Scotland are being imposed with these arbitrary restrictions.

“As an industry we provide ultra-safe venues for colleagues and customers to visit. There is not a shred of scientific evidence which supports the decision to keep casinos closed in Level 2 while other hospitality venues are able to stay open.

“If Scottish casinos are forced to remain closed it will have a devastating impact on those customers who enjoy their local venues as a community hub, on team members who will lose their jobs, on the local suppliers it serves, on the charities that they are proud to support, as well as on the wider economy which will lose millions of pounds in tax receipts.”

The venues supporting the campaign employ more than 700 people in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The businesses say they have invested millions of pounds to ensure venues are safe for colleagues and customers.

This includes installing plexiglass screens between gaming tables, ID scanning technology upon entry, hand sanitiser stations and social distancing signage throughout venues.

More campaign information can be found at http://www.savecasinossavejobs.com.

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