High stakes for casino companies as customers return after lockdown

Casinos have welcomed back customers for the first time since last year as most of Scotland moved to Level 2 of coronavirus restrictions.

The venues have been among those allowed to reopen as measures have been relaxed in all but Glasgow and Moray in response to the latest Covid-19 figures.

Belinda Jamieson and Elaine Banks were among the first customers through the doors of the Grosvenor Edinburgh Maybury Casino on Monday as it opened for the first time since October.

The pair – who once won a £20,000 jackpot at the venue – wore masks saying “Slot Machine Queen” and “Get out of my way I’m going to the casino” to celebrate the occasion.

Belinda Jamieson (left) and Elaine Banks
Belinda Jamieson (left) and Elaine Banks were delighted to be back in a casino (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Jamieson told the PA news agency: “It’s really exciting, so I’ve got the day off work, the whole week off actually, so I’m hoping I win the jackpot.

“We were early but there were people before us (in the queue), it was amazing.”

Despite the prolonged closure of somewhere they can have a day out, the ladies on the slot machines admitted online casinos do not give the same experience.

Ms Banks said: “It’s a day out, you can get something to eat, a wee beverage, it’s brilliant to be back.

“I have done it online but it’s not the same as coming in and enjoying the atmosphere. The staff are great, we love the Maybury.

Tony Reilly
Tony Reilly said it was ‘wonderful’ to welcome customers back (Jane Barlow/PA)

“It’s spotless and it’s a great casino.”

Screens are placed among the slot machines, with equipment and seats being cleaned by staff after any use.

Roulette and blackjack tables will also be regularly cleaned as well as the chips, which will only be used by one customer before replaced with a sanitised set.

Tony Reilly, general manager of the Maybury, said casinos had been scientifically proven to be among the safest entertainment venues.

He told PA: “It’s absolutely wonderful, you can see from our customers standing outside, the phone ringing all morning, they’re really happy to be back and we’re happy to be back serving them and looking after them because that’s what we love to do.

Staff member cleans gaming machine screens
Electronic gaming manager Julie Baxter cleans the screens at the Grosvenor Edinburgh Maybury Casino (Jane Barlow/PA)

“Previously the screens were all around the tables but now we have them for customers if they request them – we’ve kept them on all the machines because of the proximity of machines are very close and people tend to spend a lot of time and machines.

“I’ve been working myself through the pandemic and it’s just great to see people again.

“I think casinos have been proven to be the safest environment in hospitality … all I can do is assure with the facts and figures … that casinos are the safest hospitality environment.”

Speaking about his colleagues in Glasgow, unable to open after a late decision to stay in Level 3 on Friday, he added: “My heart goes out to the guys, I’m from Glasgow myself and I couldn’t believe it.

“I had a busy day on Friday but when the news filtered through I was devastated.

“They were really disappointed because, like us, they’re passionate about what they do and wanted to have the casino open so we can serve our customers.”