Betting industry body the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called on the UK government to come up with emergency assistance to protect thousands of jobs in the gambling industry, after new concerns arose over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the industry.
The UK government put out new advice on Tuesday stating that people should avoid social contact and cease non-essential travel, to help slow the progression of the virus.
But the BGC called on the government to match this public health request with emergency help to those employees and businesses that will be hit by the measures.
The BGC has consulted members on the potential impact of the coronavirus restrictions and said the most immediate call for emergency assistance is associated with employment costs. The BGC has urged the government to give betting companies extra time to pay PAYE and NI contributions.
The BGC also asked for a suspension to consultation periods, along with business rates relief and more time for firms to pay on corporation tax. They also asked for banks to extend their existing SME support with interest suspension and mortgage repayment holidays, and for reform to business rates.
According to research conducted by the BGC, over the last week, customer levels have fallen by as much as 90% in the case of some casinos, while betting shops are facing a drop of as much as 60% in sports betting business. Earlier this week, the Grand National was cancelled, while all British horse racing has come to a halt as of Wednesday, following the cancellation of most other sporting events for at least the rest of the month. The summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, which was set to be a major focus for sports betting customers, has also been postponed.
In a statement on the issue, the BGC highlighted the action taken in other countries, and urged the government to step in and offer similar support:
“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.”