Home Business Insights & Advice UK betting and gambling council calls on government for financial relief

UK betting and gambling council calls on government for financial relief

by John Saunders
19th Mar 20 4:08 pm

As a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the UK Betting and Gambling Council (BGC) has requested financial relief from the UK government.

In a statement posted online, the BGC highlights the UK gambling industry’s 70,000 employees and £3.2 billion in tax contributions. Casinos across the country have seen a 90% reduction in customer levels as citizens self-isolate on recommendation from the government, resulting in staggering losses. To mitigate the loss of income to employees and businesses during this time, the BGC has asked for “relief and time to pay on taxes and duties, plus urgent access to finance.”

“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,” said BGC chief executive Michael Dugher.

It was announced yesterday by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) that all horse racing events in the UK will be suspended until the end of April. BHA Chief Executive Nick Rust said the council enacted the suspension in the interest of public health. “Our first duty is to the health of the public, our customers and to racing industry participants and staff,” he said. Cancellation of the Grand National alone has threatened up to a 60% loss in revenue for betting shops.

Gambling in quarantine

Online gambling is one area of the industry likely to see a rise in popularity during the quarantine period. Popular online gambling sites like casinosx.com offer all the same games that players would usually find in any physical casino, so it’s quite likely that prior technophobes will be enticed to take the plunge into digital gambling whilst stuck indoors.

Online gambling is the largest sector in the UK gambling industry by gross gambling yield (GGY), comprising 37.1% of overall. However, being almost entirely automated, it employs far less staff than physical gambling locations. Only 10% of the total UK gambling industry workforce is employed by the online sector, with almost 50% employed by bookies.

The online gambling industry will not be free and clear of struggles, though, and will also be affected by postponements to sports and horse racing events. On top of the horse racing suspension, it was further announced yesterday that the 2020 European Championship football tournament (EURO 2020) has been postponed until next year.

UK government response

The government’s slow and insufficient response to the coronavirus pandemic has been criticized by doctors and world leaders. Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton says government officials ignored warnings from Chinese scientists who urged careful surveillance and warned of “pandemic potential”.

UK advisors initially planned to combat the virus through “herd immunity”, which would involve infecting 60% of the population in order to build immunity. That plan was swiftly abandoned this week when UK scientists finally realized the seriousness of the situation. Even with only a 1% fatality rate, the plan would result in 400,000 deaths and an insurmountable strain on the NHS.

New measures are now in place but the slow response will likely result in a long, drawn-out battle to defeat the virus. The latest reports suggest London could go into lockdown. In a briefing on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stopped short of confirming an enforced restriction on movement but said it was not ruled out.

In Italy and many other European countries, citizens have been self-isolating for weeks already to try to reduce the spread of the virus. On Tuesday the European Commission proposed a 30-day restriction of non-essential travel into the EU area.

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