Holland Covid-19 Lockdown Closes Casinos for a Month

Image by Vishwas Katti
Article by : Helen Dec 30, 2020

Fourteen state-owned casinos in the Netherlands have joined all other non-essential businesses in Holland and closed their doors until at least Jan. 19. The national shutdown is an aggressive response to the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands and globally.

Holland Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the nationwide lockdown on Dec. 14 and ordered all schools, gyms, museums, and non-essential stores to close for more than a month. He also advised restricting visitations to no more than three people over age 13 during the Christmas holiday and no more than two guests at other times during the national lockdown.

A steeply rising rate of positive COVID-19 tests triggered the federal lockdown in the Netherlands. A seven-day rolling average of 29.22 daily new cases per 100,000 Dutch citizens on Nov. 29 rose to 47.47 daily new cases per 100,000 on Dec. 13. Dutch officials say COVID-19 has claimed about 10,000 lives in the nation of more than 17 million.

Dutch health officials say the nation reached about 9,000 new cases per day, with more patients filling up hospital beds and staying at home to ride out the virus. Dutch doctors and healthcare providers have delayed more than a million hospital procedures, including surgeries, while battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state-owned Holland Casino brand owns all 14 casinos in the Netherlands, which initially shut their doors as the global pandemic became apparent in mid-March. The initial shutdown was to continue into September, but improved numbers during the summertime enabled a July opening on a limited basis.

The arrival of September also heralded a new rise in COVID-19 cases in the Netherlands, which prompted the federal government to declare a midnight closure for casinos and other non-essential businesses. That lasted until the shutdown that Rutte announced on Dec. 13.

The shutdowns and other restrictions have inflicted a steep loss on Dutch gaming revenues, which are used to help pay for governmental services. All casino revenues wind up in the national treasury to fund various governmental programs. Holland does not have online gaming, so the casino shutdowns mean steep losses for federal services that are dependent on the revenue streams created by the national casinos.

Holland Casino reported a €28 million operating loss during the first half of 2020 as revenues dropped by about 60 percent. The loss is certain to grow even more during the second half of the year as the shutdowns and other restrictions keep doors closed into 2021. The Dutch government extended financial help to the gaming operations by canceling €68 million in planned dividends that were to be paid out for 2019.

The 14 Holland Casino operations provide jobs for about 4,000 workers. The 14 Holland Casino operations provide jobs for about 4,000 workers. The Dutch government has paid millions to help ensure those workers continue drawing paychecks while the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In addition to rigid social distancing guidelines, the Dutch government banned air travel to and from the UK until after New Year’s Day.

UK health officials recently reported a mutant strain of COVID-19, which triggered localized shutdowns of casinos in the greater London area and other locations with high COVID-19 rates and a new strain of the virus. The new COVID-19 strain identified in the UK has many in the European Union concerned about that strain’s potential resistance to newly developed vaccines. As the vaccines are distributed over the next year, the potential to rein in the virus should enable much better control of the pandemic and general restoration of normal activities.

Helen

Chief Editor

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