The Uruguay government has decided that state casinos will be subject to a suspension until April 12, while also urging private casinos to follow the measure. This decision comes just a few days after gambling halls had been exempted from the restrictions which had been implemented due to a rise in COVID-19 infections.
During a press conference last week, President Luis Lacalle Pou explained that authorities were studying casino operations, saying: “From my point of view, they should have a limited schedule like bars and restaurants.”
However, the new restrictions which were created by the Ministry of Economy and Finance set that “casinos [that answer to these ministries] will remain closed until April 12,” while also asking “private casinos to comply with this provision”.
The National Association of State Casino Officials (Anfuce) had already warned that shutting down casino operations would “send more than 1,000 public employees home”, without taking into consideration all contracted workers.
Additionally, the association assured that casinos are not spaces where infections have been registered, mainly because they operate under strict measures, such as the mandatory use of masks, distance between machines and people and the installation of sanitizing machines, among other things.
After the Government’s decision, employees of Enjoy Punta del Este’s workers association (Ateu) claimed that the decision was taken “due to the pressure from the media and people who are completely unaware of the activity that takes place at casinos”.
“Closing gambling halls means a great loss for employees, companies and the state, which needs funds to help those in need during these circumstances. Money has to come from somewhere,” they said.
Furthermore, they highlighted that this decision could result in job losses, since the casino currently employs thousands of people on a permanent basis.