Standards body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which represents the UK’s betting and gaming industry including betting shops, bingo halls and casinos, has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until October.
The move will help to support the 64,000 people who work in the retail betting and gaming industry.
The BGC said that even with partial relaxation of social distancing measures – not expected until 4th July at the earliest – many retail, leisure and hospitality businesses will not survive without additional longer-term support from the Government.
Since 20 March, all betting shops, bingo halls and casinos have been closed without the ability to generate any revenue. The BGC strongly welcomed the Chancellor’s swift and unprecedented package of employment support last March, in response to the threat posed to the hospitality and leisure industry.
Mr Sunak announced that the current furlough scheme, which sees the Government pay 80 per cent of wages up to £2,500 a month, will now run until the end of July.
From August until the end of October, employers will be expected to contribute to the 80 per cent, with furloughed staff encouraged to return to work part-time.
The BGC said this added flexibility will help in particular bingo halls and casinos to get back up and running whilst retaining control over their biggest cost, which is staffing.
BGC members last year paid over £3 billion in taxes, contributed £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: “We strongly welcomed the introduction of the furlough scheme, as a lifeline for our members and the tens of thousands they employ, and we are delighted that the Chancellor has announced it will continue until the end of October.
“Even when social distancing measures are relaxed for the hospitality and leisure industry, many of our member companies would be operating at a much reduced capacity. Without continued business support these businesses will fail and jobs will be lost. We have had excellent engagement with ministers, especially Nigel Huddleston at DCMS, and we are grateful for the support we’ve had across government.
“Extending the furlough scheme and introducing a flexible furlough will provide a more stable transition during the lockdown.
“Our industry will continue to do its upmost to help with the fight against the virus and play our full part in this historic national effort to support local communities and people in most need. When conditions allow we hope to be in a position to return to business and help get the retail, leisure and hospitality industry moving again.”