The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged politicians not to ignore certain parts of the industry during the coronavirus crisis.
The organization represents 90% of the British betting and gaming industry. In an effort to support those with offline interests, CEO Michael Dugher has asked the Welsh government for help.
In a letter to Welsh First Minister Rebecca Events, Dugher called for concessions to help gambling firms in Wales stay afloat.
Fragmented Support for Betting and Gaming Industry
For outsiders looking in, British betting and gaming companies appear to be covered by the chancellor Rishi Sunak’s emergency budget. However, due to the devolution of power, governments in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have the option to exercise certain rules as they see fit.
In this instance, betting and gaming companies in England have been given financial support during the coronavirus crisis while those in Wales haven’t been afforded the same support.
Welsh betting shops and casinos aren’t covered by any sort of business rates relief. According to the BGC, this leaves four casinos and more than 300 betting shops at risk. Between them, they employ more than 2,000 people.
With lockdown laws in place across the UK, the venues have been shuttered and employees either made redundant or furloughed. It’s a similar story for other businesses within the entertainment sector.
However, many of these have been given 100% relief on rent and business rates. Betting shops and casinos in Wales haven’t been supported in the same way.
Help Needed to Prevent Live Losses
Dugher has asked the First Minister to give gambling-based businesses in Wales the same help as those in England.
“I don’t for a single second think that the Welsh government is saying that 2,000 workers in Wales who are employed in the regulated betting industry are less worthy of the support they get in England, but we urgently need a re-think on rates,” Dugher said in a press statement.
Dugher’s request highlights the disparity in fortunes between online and offline businesses during the coronavirus crisis. While online poker and gaming sites are currently experiencing an upswing, live venues have had no choice but to stop trading.
Although the likes of Grosvenor and Genting have been able to offset a lack of live revenue with increased online earnings, the situation is far from ideal. Dugher’s call for rate reliefs is another reminder that some sectors of the industry are suffering more than others during the global pandemic.