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Delay to casino reopenings in England puts jobs at risk

3rd August 2020 9:54 am GMT
NetEnt

The UK Government’s last-minute decision to delay the reopening of casinos will cost the industry millions of pounds and put thousands of jobs at risk, the Betting and Gaming Council has warned.

Casinos in England had been approved to reopen on 1 August after making significant investments to ensure that they could do so safely, with the industry incurring costs of around £6m to equip venues and to take staff off furlough and provide training.

However, the government made a surprise u-turn on Friday and ordered casinos in England to remain closed in a move described as “highly illogical, inconsistent and deeply damaging to those businesses and the thousands of staff they employ,” by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).

“The Government are swinging a wrecking ball right through the middle of our industry and large scale job losses, which ought to be unnecessary and avoidable, now look inevitable unless ministers act fast,” warned BGC chief executive Michael Dugher.

“Casinos are a small but fundamental part of our leisure, hospitality, entertainment and tourism industry. They employ over 14,000 people across the UK and indirectly support another 4,000 jobs in the supply sector, and last year casinos paid over £5.7 million in tax per week.”

The BGC estimates that each week of closure costs casinos £5m, with that cost doubling for the UK Treasury after inclusion of furlough costs and lost tax receipts.

The COVID-related casino closures have already had a devastating impact on operators, with the likes of Genting Casinos and Rank Group warning of possible job losses.

“The ongoing cost of remaining in a holding pattern to reopen is clearly not sustainable, with more jobs and livelihoods being put at risk with every last minute change and delay to reopening,” Dugher added.

“The Job Retention Scheme has helped but our members will now be forced to pay National Insurance and pension contributions on top of salaries in August while they remain closed. As furlough payments are phased out, there will be no flexibility for casinos to adapt to the new working and leisure environment and I now fear that many thousands of jobs could be lost.”

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