An independent bookmaker told me last week that the UK government was paying his staff 80% of their salary and he had claimed a further £25,000 per closed shop. The business, prior to shutdown, had become so difficult to run: numerous regulatory issues, limits on stakes and prizes, and a rise in tax. With time to reflect during the lockdown, he has decided not to re-open. That is a sad state of affairs for the UK betting sector.
One hopes that the rest of the industry is looking in the other direction.
Reviving the leisure industry in every country is so important; it brings currency into the country, employs millions, and produces tax for governments. None more so than Las Vegas where leisure, gambling and hospitality are so important.
Wynn Resorts has set out an impressive 24-page plan that is available from the company’s website.
Wynn proposes to use thermal cameras at casino entrances, people above 100F will be detained and subject to secondary screening.
Physical distancing: stay away from people not in your group, six feet or more. The physical layout of tables in restaurants and the gaming floor will be changed.
Guest arrival: A security officer will greet guests on arrival. After temperature checks they will be asked to hand sanitise and encouraged to wear a mask and protective gloves.
Supervisors will be asked to disinfect table game rails after each guest leaves
Dealers to disinfect dice for each new shooter.
Of course, there is a lot more in the 24-page brief with an emphasis on guest room cleanliness.
All of this will come at significant cost to Wynn Resorts. How much? Well yesterday online retailing giant Amazon announced its figures for the quarter. Net sales were up 26%. What no-one expected was operating income down US$ 4 billion. Jeff Bezos explained to investors, “we expect to spend the entirety of US$ 4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on COVID – related expenses getting products to customers and keeping employees safe. This includes investments in personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning of our facilities.”
It is not only affecting Amazon. J Sainsburys, one of the largest supermarket chains in the UK, said COVID-19 had cost it £500 million in additional expense.
Opening up again is not going to be as profitable as before, until this virus is beaten.
Those that have larger premises will benefit from having the resource to allow their customers to space out. But large premises are not cheap – rents have to be paid as do local taxes, and large premises need to be fully utilised to show a profit.
Written by Warwick Bartlett