UK industry standards body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which represents the UK’s betting and gaming industry including betting shops and casinos, has welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until September, extend business rates relief and introduce grants for hard pressed high street businesses and hospitality.
These steps will help to support the 44,000 people who work in the retail betting shops and land-based casinos.
Since the start of the year, all betting shops and casinos have been required to close without the ability to generate any revenue. The BGC said that even with partial relaxation of restrictions – not expected until 12 April at the earliest for betting shops and 17 May for casinos – many retail, leisure and hospitality businesses would have struggled without additional longer-term support from the Government. The BGC pressed the Government to safely reopen businesses as quickly as possible, data permitting.
The BGC said the added flexibility provided by extending furlough to September will help businesses get back up and running whilst retaining control over their biggest cost, which is staffing.
The decision to extend business rates relief will remove a major financial pressure on businesses that have suffered a significant loss of income during the pandemic.
BGC members in 2020 paid nearly £4 billion in taxes, contributed £350 million to horse racing and £120 million to the UK tourism industry through international visitors and their spend.
Michael Dugher, BGC Chief Executive said: “The extension of the furlough scheme and new grants for businesses are strongly welcomed by the tens of thousands of people who work in high street betting and land-based casinos. Without the continued support from the Chancellor, many of these businesses would have struggled to survive.
“We have already seen over 5,000 jobs lost and 375 businesses closed since the start of last year.
“The decision to extend the business rates relief will be welcomed by many of our member companies who have not been able to open properly for nearly a year now.
“Our industry will continue to play it’s part in the national effort to combat covid, supporting our local communities, and we look forward to contributing to the economic recovery”.