THE manager of a top Birmingham casino has spoken of his frustration over his business remaining closed while venues around him are allowed to re-open.
Matt Rudd, general manager of the Grosvenor Casino, in Broad Street, is delighted that the Government has given the green light for the leisure and entertainment industry to begin opening again with appropriate safety measures – but is concerned that no date has been given for casinos to do the same.
Matt, who has worked at the Grosvenor for six years, said: “It’s soul destroying to see this place empty. This is the first time in 20 years that we haven’t had any customers or teams in the building so it’s a very eerie atmosphere and not what we’re used to. We want to get customers back in the doors, get the team back in and make things vibrant again.
“I’m adding my voice to thousands of others by asking government to allow us to reopen our casinos as soon as they possibly can. I know I’m not alone in feeling a bit frustrated, and I know that nothing is more important than the safety of our colleagues and customers. But the longer we remain closed, the more anxious I become.
“I’ve looked around what else is happening here in Birmingham and am delighted that we appear to have gone the extra distance to ensure that customers will receive the safest possible welcome and experience when we’re finally allowed to unlock our doors.”
When the lockdown was announced in March, Matt was forced to put 73 members of staff on furlough. In the days that followed, the Grosvenor took a key role in the local response to supporting frontline NHS staff, emergency services and other vulnerable groups by providing and delivering hot meals through the Blue Light Card scheme.
“My casino is very much part of the local community; lockdown didn’t change that – it simply gave us a new way of showcasing our community values,” said Matt.
The Grosvenor then began preparing for reopening, and over the past couple of months Matt has overseen significant changes to the casino, although so far he has only been able to bring two members of staff back from furlough to work part-time, while the rest remain at home.
He added: “We know that customers will rightly expect to feel safe when they return, and we’ve completed the widespread provision of social distancing measures and signage, and the installation of Perspex dividers on gaming tables, slots and electronic roulette terminals.
“Hand sanitisers have been delivered and protective equipment is in place for customers and colleagues. We’ve got new Covid-secure measures in place for the handling and cleaning of gaming chips and cards, and the ID requirements we now have will ensure we are fully compliant for the government’s track and trace programme.
“We love working here on Broad Street and we’re straining at the leash to get back to giving our customers a safe and enjoyable experience. At the moment we’re reliant on the furlough scheme and we’re not really contributing to the vibrancy of the local entertainment scene in this part of the city. That’s what we’re about and it is what we miss most.”
Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID said he hoped that the Government would soon end the uncertainty for businesses like the Grosvenor by allowing casinos to open once more.
He said: “The Grosvenor is a major Broad Street attraction which plays an enormous part in making Westside such an exciting place to visit for our customers. Matt and the team have worked so hard to make the Grosvenor a safe and welcoming place for people to visit and we look forward to the day when they can throw open their doors once more.”
PICTURE: Matt Rudd at the Grosvenor Casino in Broad Street.