The lockdown eased in London and other parts of the UK almost a month ago.
Among the places of reception of the public were the casinos.
Love them or hate them, the casino is one of those establishments where you go for fun or a drink – although we know the devastating effects this can have on some people.
There were queues outside the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square when it opened on May 17th and people also flocked to Aspers Westfield Casino in Stratford.
Casinos are also notorious for being quite noisy and bustling places with people crowding around the roulette tables waiting for their number to enter or regroup at a blackjack table.
I decided to take a look at Vegas of East London to see if any safety precautions were being followed inside.
I went to both the main entrance and the one with elevator access to check them both out
Security was checking IDs as usual, but I don’t recall being asked to scan my phone at some point for the NHS Test and Trace app.
On its website, the casino states, “To help reduce the risk of a local COVID-19 outbreak, Aspers is taking the contact details of all visiting guests. We need the full name and cell phone number of each guest at the entrance to our casinos.
I walked inside as the lights were flashing, the slots were spinning, and the odd punch hitting the table was heard in the distance.
At first glance, it wasn’t that different from when I came here before Covid.
There were still a lot of people inside although the tables had a limited number of people allowed to play per game.
For blackjack, roulette, four-card poker, and other table games, it was three at a table with one seat left open between each player.
For machine games, people got up and left, swapping seats on the seats without much disinfection.
There were lots of bottles of disinfectant on the tables, so I sprayed a seat and watched the bettors.
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As an estimate, I would say that 75% of the people inside wore masks.
This was even the case at some tables where people were playing but had no face covering.
The face covering remains obligatory in the enclosed interior spaces, except if you are exempted from it for reasons of health.
I found it hard to believe that so many non-masking out there were exempt for one reason or another, although it was technically possible.
I walked around the poker room where the dynamics of the game had also changed.
There were only six in a game and the tables were split in half so that no one came into contact with each other.
Again, there were a lot of players who just weren’t wearing a mask.
Considering that there is hardly any ventilation in a casino with no open windows or natural air to enter and exit, it didn’t give me much confidence.
I decided to play for fun so I got some chips from the dealer.
This is the most unsanitary aspect of the whole casino – chips that have passed through hundreds of hands and ended up in yours, probably covered in bacteria.
I played a bit and then left, obviously feeling that my hands were covered in a mixture of germs and dirt.
Granted, the casino toilets were clean as I spent a lot of time washing my hands and rubbing my fingers.
I won’t be going back anytime soon, not because I didn’t want to lose a few pounds, but because I felt the atmosphere was the perfect breeding ground for Covid.
MyLondon approached Aspers Casino and a spokesperson said: “There are guests who are exempt from wearing face coverings as per government guidelines; we cannot legally interview these guests.
“Our team members routinely go to all casino customers who are not wearing a face covering momentarily and make sure they put it back on, apart from while eating and drinking.
“The NHS app is not the only option for Track and Trace.”