Mecca Bingo Boss Angry At Misleading Rules That Make No Sense
The Rank Group owner John O’Reilly launched an attack on the latest rules implemented by the government which has forced bingo sites to close yet again in various areas of the country.
The tier system introduced in an attempt to curb the spread of Coronavirus has seen Mecca bingo halls in Lancashire and Blackpool close as the area is now in tier three, the highest level. Merseyside is also in tier three but bingo halls in this area remain open.
John O’Reilly, owner of the Rank group who own 77 Mecca Bingo Halls and 51 Grosvenor Casino, called the latest measures “Illogical”.
“It makes zero sense; I can open my bingo halls in Liverpool, but I have to shut my bingo halls in Blackpool. We have been clumsily and inadvertently caught up in the misdirected measures that do nothing to suppress the virus, but which have put thousands of jobs and livelihoods at risk”.
There has already been a huge impact to the industry with the lockdown early on this year which saw all bingo and casino halls closed for months. This sector was one of the last to re-open its doors after an announcement from the government just 24 hours before they were due to re-open to push back another two weeks, an impact they could ill afford.
Mr O’Reilly went on to say, “The impact on colleagues is immense, he told the Mail. They are bereft frankly. We’re left in a bizarre situation where we are contributing to the Treasury in Southport by generating revenues but relying on Treasury support in Blackpool by virtue of being shut down.”
Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire are the latest to be placed under tier three rules so more bingo and casino halls will have to close.
To add to the blow, a curfew set at 10pm for pubs, clubs and restaurants came in to force a few weeks back which further impacted the industry. Casinos especially generate most of its revenue after 10pm. The Rank boss offered to stop serving alcohol after 10pm to avoid having to close their doors, but the plea was unsuccessful. “Bars and Pubs have lost a little bit of their days trade, but casinos its savage. The curfew is having crippling impact on our business with no public health benefit that I can see.”
Rank profits were healthy during 2019 and up to February this year were ‘flying’. The country went into lockdown on the 20th March 2020 and all businesses in the sector were forced to close with 7,000 staff members on furlough.
Rank have invested heavily in implementing safety precautions to ensure its venues are as safe as possible to its customers and staff. They have invested £2m in screens throughout its casinos. Each chip is cleaned after being touched, cards are single use or are only touched by one dealer then thrown away.
The impact on the gambling industry is huge with stricter regulations coming in to force and could see a winter where staff rely on taxpayers support rather than income from their jobs.