'Historic national effort’
Betting and Gaming Council strongly welcomes Government’s unprecedented package and vows to play its full part in this ‘historic national effort’ to beat the virus, protect businesses and safeguard jobs
Standards body Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which represents 90 per cent of the UK’s betting and gaming industry including betting shops, online gaming businesses, bingo and casinos, strongly welcomes the Chancellor’s unprecedented response to the threat posed to millions of jobs from the coronavirus, as betting shops and casinos ordered to shutdown. BGC made it clear its top priority is to keep customers and staff safe, and to keep people in their jobs.
The Betting and Gaming Council had previously called for a government major intervention, similar to those introduced in Spain and Denmark, to make grants available to support salaries and keep people in jobs and BGC said that it was hugely welcome that the Government has acted quickly and decisively to address the concerns of business and staff.
The Chancellor’s workers’ support package includes:
- 80% of wages up to £2,500 cap backdated to 1st March and initially open for 3 months
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme would now be interest-free for twelve months
- Next quarter’s VAT payments deferred
- Support for the self-employed and those made redundant
BGC said its members will co-operate fully with the latest rules introduced by the Government in an effort to combat the spread of the virus in the UK, including the temporary closures of betting shops and casinos.
The Government stated the ‘decision on closures will be reviewed on a monthly basis, and are being implemented across the whole of the UK in agreement with the devolved administrations. If needed, the government will enforce these measures by law.’
As part of what BGC chief executive called the “historic national effort to beat the virus, protect businesses and safeguard jobs”, BGC members have offered to do more to help. BGC member companies have offered to free up staff time to help, for example where they have medical training, and they have offered the use of their premises, for example for catering or any other purpose as required, to help those in most need.
BGC are also stepping up safer gambling messaging to ensure that any customers betting online are doing so safely. We will also step up measures to help identify those on the illegal black market that have none of the customer safeguards or customer interventions that UK licensed online operators have in place and will be seeking action against them.
BGC were pleased to see the Government now rightly treating betting shops and casinos as part of the ‘leisure’ industry, in common with other businesses like clubs that have also been asked to close.
But CEO Michael Dugher repeated his call for casinos, bingo halls and betting shops to be given access to the Government’s extended business rates support, announced on 17 March, when these companies were excluded from help by the Treasury.
BGC members directly employ over 70,000 people and pay over £3 billion in taxes in each year, contribute £350 million to horse racing and between £120 million and £200 million to the UK tourism industry through international visitors and their spend.
Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive said:
“Our industry will cooperate completely with the Government’s latest advice. More importantly, we are determined to play our full part in this historic national effort to beat the virus, protect businesses and safeguard jobs.
We will be scrutinising carefully the package of measures announced by the Chancellor to ensure our members and their hardworking, valued staff get the full benefit of this. We will also be pressing the Chancellor to be consistent and do the right thing by people in our industry by giving them the same access to help on business rates that every other leisure business enjoys and who have now similarly been asked to temporarily shutdown.
“We will also be pressing the Chancellor to be consistent and do the right thing by people in our industry by giving them the same access to help on business rates that every other leisure business enjoys and who have now similarly been asked to temporarily shutdown.”
“Casinos and betting shops together support the majority of employment in the betting and gaming industry – around 64,000 jobs. Without the ability to generate revenue from football and horseracing, which account for 75 per cent of the UK licensed sports betting market, these employment costs were simply unsustainable going forward.
“Whilst we are naturally sad to see our doors closed, we hope that this decisive action taken by the Government will see the whole country come through this crisis and that our businesses, and those who work for them, will prosper in the future as we continue to work hard to raise standards and bring enjoyment to our millions of customers”.