Boss of Britain’s biggest casino complex warns 10pm curfew will be ‘disastrous’ for night-time industries
The boss of Britain’s biggest casino complex has warned that a 10pm curfew would be ‘disastrous’ for night-time industries.
Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome in London’s West End, said casinos make half their revenue after 10pm, and a national curfew would force him to make ‘substantial redundancies’ among his 700 staff.
He already expects to make a ‘significant loss’ this year, after losing £1million a month during the five months the business was closed, and said the situation remains ‘fragile’.
Losing streak: Visitor numbers are down 80 per cent at the Hippodrome
Visitor numbers are down by about 80 per cent since the Hippodrome reopened last month.
‘The curfew poses an existential threat to theatres, hotels, bars and clubs,’ said Thomas.
‘It is an unnecessary over-reaction to Covid and it would be a disaster for London.’
Thomas owns about half of the Hippodrome, which has casinos, restaurants and bars on six floors of a 19th Century former music hall and circus. His 86-year-old father Jimmy owns 20 per cent.
He said he had worked hard to make the casinos safe, with gaming positions separated by flexi-glass walls, and the 80,000 sq ft premises prepared to receive just 400 people, down from 1,600.
He has raised £10million of Government loans and bank debt. A consultation on redundancies has started, but the number of job cuts has not been confirmed while 300 staff remain on furlough.
Thomas said: ‘It’s frustrating as the core business is excellent – the building is beautiful and a huge asset to London. We are very happy to pay tax, to provide jobs and entertain people – but we have to be allowed to do it.’