Genting Malaysia subsidiary slams UK's 'whack-a-mole approach' in casino U-turn

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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 2): Genting Malaysia Bhd's wholly-owned subsidiary Genting UK plc has expressed frustration over the UK government's announcement that casinos across England will remain closed for at least two more weeks, describing the move as a "whack-a-mole approach" in policymakers' lockdown strategy to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, CasinoBeats reported, quoting Genting UK's official statement.

Genting UK director of corporate assurance and regulatory affairs Jon Duffy was quoted as saying in the statement last Friday that the announcement flew in the face of the government strategy of local lockdowns.

"After weeks of meticulous planning, we find it incredible that we have been given less than 24 hours' notice as to this change of plan, which in itself has caused huge damage to the business. Significant numbers of staff have been brought back from furlough to prepare for the reopening, and this is devastating news for our entire team who now faces further worry and uncertainty.

"For every week we remain closed, it is costing us over £1.5 million (about RM8.35 million). This is clearly not sustainable, with more jobs and livelihoods being put at risk with every last-minute change and delay," Duffy said.

Last Friday, CasinoBeats reported that casinos across England were due to reopen from yesterday but those plans have been shelved after Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a delay of "at least a fortnight" in the easing of lockdown restrictions.

It was reported that Genting UK claimed the UK government's decision to delay all casinos in England from reopening "defied logic" and "seriously threatens the future of the entire industry".

"We recognise that incredibly difficult decisions have to be made by all those in government, but we are absolutely confident that our venues are as safe, if not more so, than a range of other businesses now currently operating," Genting UK said.

At Bursa Malaysia, Genting Malaysia shares were last traded down one sen or 0.44% last Thursday at RM2.28 for a market value of about RM12.89 billion. The stock saw 8.33 million shares traded.

Malaysian markets were closed last Friday in conjunction with the Hari Raya Haji holiday. Trading will resume tomorrow.