British Casino Bosses Ask for Government Support

Image by Aleks Marinkovic
Article by : Helen Oct 1, 2020

Britain based casino operators have asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, to offer monetary support that will be used to protect thousands of jobs that are at risk in the industry following the new coronavirus measures. In a parliament address on 22 September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a series of measures that would slow down the spread of Covid-19. New rules include 10 pm daily curfew for pubs, bars, casinos, and other leisure facilities as of 24 September.

Facilities that fail to comply with the new set rules are subject to financial penalties of £10,000 or even being closed indefinitely. The restrictions that took effect on 24 could be in place for up to six months, depending on the COVID-19 situation in the UK. But, casino operators said that their 70% of trade runs after 10 pm curfew and could thus have significant results on business and, in turn, result in mass job loss across the casino industry.

The Chancellor was expected to address the parliament on 24 September, whereby the casino bosses expected him to give generous packages of measures that would keep their businesses afloat. Some of the recommendations are for Mr. Rishi Sunak to extend the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that was introduced in March, allow businesses to put workers on furlough where the government will be contributing heavily to their wages during the period.

But, the Chancellor had other news. In his address to parliament, he said, “And, Mr. Speaker, there has been no harder choice than the decision to end the furlough scheme. The furlough was the right policy at the time we introduced it. It provided immediate, short-term protection for millions of jobs through a period of acute crisis. But as the economy reopens, it is fundamentally wrong to hold people in jobs that only exist inside the furlough. We need to create new opportunities and allow the economy to move forward, and that means supporting people to be in viable jobs which provide genuine security.”

Casino operators also expected the Chancellor to consider taxpayer-backed initiatives that would, in turn, help businesses to continue operating and thus allow them to pay taxes. The UK industry standards body – the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) – supports the effort with the chief executive Michael Dugher asking for urgent support.

Casinos have demonstrated that they are COVID-secure, and yet are being ordered to close their doors at 10 pm. This is an illogical and disproportionate decision which puts thousands of jobs at risk.

Michael Dugher, CEO of Betting and Gaming Council (BGC)

Dugher called the Chancellor to implement an economic package that would allow casinos to remain open and protect jobs. He added that if casino could remain open, it could contribute to the British economy getting to its feet once the pandemic is over. Dugher’s comments came after the BGC criticized the government’s decision to subject casinos to 10 pm curfew, describing the act as “death knell for the casino industry.”

The Chancellor announced a new scheme whereby employees will have to work at least a third of their regular job time and be paid by the employer for the work and the government to contribute the rest. However, only the small and mid-sized businesses will benefit from the scheme.

The Chancellor said, “The Jobs Support Scheme is built on three principles. First, it will support viable jobs. Second, we will target support at firms who need it the most. The scheme will run for six months starting in November. And employers retaining furloughed staff on shorter hours can claim both the Jobs Support Scheme and the Jobs Retention Bonus.”


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