Amid Omicron variant

UK: BGC calls for financial support to casinos, reassurances if new Covid restrictions are introduced

Michael Dugher, Betting and Gaming Council CEO.
2021-12-17
United Kingdom
Reading time 2:16 min

Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, the industry's standards body for UK betting and gaming, has called for financial support for casinos should further Covid restrictions be introduced as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

In a press statement released on Thursday, the CEO remarked venues are “an integral part” of the hospitality industry, alongside the likes of pubs and restaurants. As such, he highlighted the need for a “package of support measures” from the government in the event that venues are negatively impacted if new restrictions are planned.

Dugher is seeking “reassurances from Westminster” that further restrictions on casinos would be accompanied by appropriate support, the BGC remarks. About 11,600 people are employed in Britain’s 120 casinos, which pay some £600 million in tax to the Treasury and contribute £1.2 billion to the economy in gross value added.

While ministers have so far stopped short of ordering major lockdown-style restrictions, such as the ones introduced at the start of the pandemic, people have been advised by Government health experts to avoid “unnecessary contact” with others in the run-up to Christmas. Thus, the hospitality sector fears venues could be impacted.

This concern has led to a series of calls for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to prepare an economic package as the one introduced earlier in the pandemic. Dugher is calling for gaming venues to be included in such a package if passed, as “casinos are a major economic contributor” to the UK, as well as “an integral part” of the hospitality industry.

“After a grueling 18 months, they have started to recover from the various impositions, including prolonged closures and travel bans, but they are now understandably concerned that further restrictions over Christmas and into the New Year will have a significant impact on their recovery,” the Betting and Gaming Council CEO said.

According to Dugher, casinos, like other players in the hospitality industry, “are simply seeking reassurances” that if the pandemic requires yet more severe restrictions, “that they will be adequately supported” by the UK Government.

Earlier this week, the BGC shared a new report highlighting “the significant contribution” that the regulated betting and gaming industry makes to communities, the economy and sports. The document sets out the investment in corporate social responsibility (CSR) made by members of the BGC, providing “a snapshot of activity over the past two years.”

Throughout said time, the regulated industry joined the national effort against Covid-19 and provided vital funding for a range of good causes, including cancer, mental health and dementia charities. The report also outlines efforts to promote inclusion and diversity.

“This report highlights the huge contribution the regulated industry is making to the communities in which it operates,” said Dugher. “Across the board, we see examples where members and their employees are making a real difference to the lives of others, through their support for the post-pandemic recovery, their backing for local communities, charities and grassroots sports clubs hit hard by the pandemic.”

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