Gambling firm Genting Casino is considering closing three of its outlets with job losses across its remaining 29 sites across the UK, union bosses say.
The company has written to workers outlining its plans as it battles losses caused by having to shut its sites during the coronavirus lockdown.
It is understood three casinos – in Torquay, Bristol and possibly in Margate – are potentially to close permanently, and an undisclosed number of jobs will be lost across all the business’ 32 venues.
The workers are being represented by GMB, the union for leisure and hospitality workers, which has warned that proposals to close the three casinos are “just the start” for the nation’s leisure and hospitality sector, which is at breaking point.
Casino which will remain open, such as the one in Plymouth, are expected to face job cuts. Workers there are on furlough under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.
It is not known exactly how many people work at each casino, but there are seven GMB members in Plymouth and six in Torquay, for example, but this is not all the workforce and the union expects numbers to be into double figures at each site.
Gentings has been consulting nationally with the GMB Union over the potential reductions in headcount. The company said they are needed due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Workers at the firms sites have been informed of the proposals in a letter from chief executive Paul Willcock.
In the statement sent by Mr Willcock to employees, he said: “The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges.”
Mr Willcock went on to say there was a “huge financial impact on our business and…significant uncertainty for the foreseeable future”, and added: “I am therefore forced to contemplate some very difficult options to ensure survival.”
Matt Roberts, GMB Union South West regional organiser, said: “GMB will explore every avenue with Gentings to try and keep these jobs, no matter how hopeless the situation in the sector may appear.
“The casinos, like other leisure venues, have done their duty and complied with the lockdown, following the Prime Minister’s instructions and utilising the Government’s furlough scheme.
“As the scheme ends, GMB fears this is just the beginning of widespread job losses across the sector that will hit local communities hard.
“If the Government wants this country to retain a leisure and hospitality industry, we need to see support measures continue, in some form, that we can gradually wean the businesses off as the situation hopefully improves over the next year or so.
“Otherwise there will be very little hospitality and leisure businesses left for the public to go back to.”
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Mr Roberts said: “”We are disappointed that the Torquay site is one of only three in the country that are proposed to close fully.”
He said the union will try hard to stop the Torquay closure but admitted: “Even if they do keep it open there will probably be job losses. And Torquay is a fragile economy as it is.”
Interest in online casinos has hit an all-time high during lockdown, according to Google Trends. Bricks and mortar casinos in the UK are expecting to open again, with safety measures in place, on July 4.
Genting Casino has outlets in London, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Coventry, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Margate, Newcastle, Nottingham, Plymouth, Reading, Derby, Salford, Sheffield, Southampton, Southport, Stoke, Torquay, Westcliff on Sea, Wirral and Edinburgh.
Genting Casino has been approached for comment.