The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged the UK Chancellor to take steps to protect gambling industry jobs following the Prime Minister’s public advice to avoid social gatherings and crowded places, such as pubs, clubs and theatres. BGC members directly employ more than 70,000 people across the UK.
BGC has consulted its members on the impact of the restrictions being put in place to help tackle COVID-19. BGC informed that the most immediate priority for emergency assistance is with employment costs. It has also highlighted the model of support introduced in other countries.
BGC also calls for banks to extend existing SME support on interest suspension and repayment holidays. The BGC has called for reform of business rates in their budget submission.
Last week, the customer levels have dropped by up to 90% at some casinos. Betting shops face a decrease of up to 60% trade on sports betting alone as confirmation came through that the Grand National will be cancelled along with all other major sporting events.
Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive said:
“We face an unprecedented challenge to keep both customers and staff safe during the COVID-19 health crisis.
“Like all other parts of the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries, the immediate priority for the future of our members in the casino, bingo and betting industry is the ability to pay staff. We urgently need temporary government support to help cover payroll costs, relief and time to pay duties and taxes, as well as access to finance. Treasury in particular need to step up and understand that insurance simply doesn’t cover the impact of a pandemic.
“We are speaking with the Government to ensure they are fully aware of the crisis facing our members and discussing the steps necessary to help the leisure industry and their staff through this incredibly challenging period.
“This is a national emergency. The Government’s public health response has to be matched in scale by emergency help for businesses and employees. The Treasury cannot let people in the hospitality, leisure and entertainment hang out to dry.”