UK Gambling sector now included in business rates holiday

Simona Boshkova | Published 26 Mar 2020, 11:31 a.m.

Two days ago, we reported on the gambling situation in the UK where the government has instructed all betting shops, casinos, and bingo halls to temporarily close as part of its latest measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. In addition to this, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to help protect jobs that are affected by these measures. However, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) wasn’t happy with these measures because gaming businesses were not included in the list of companies that would benefit from them.

The Covid-19 situation caused many sports and gambling events to be cancelled and it’s expected that the global gaming revenues will fall by 11%. For that reason, BGC has pressed the Chancellor to secure more support for gambling businesses and to include them in the government’s set of measures. The council succeeded and has received the support from the UK government, welcoming the confirmation that the gambling sector will now qualify for the same business rates holiday.

Gambling industry to be included in the 12-month business rate holiday

Following the government’s instructions to close betting shops and casinos all over the UK, thousands of jobs in the gambling industry were at risk. However, the UK Government has announced that it will include betting companies in its 12-month, 100% business rate holiday during the Covid-19 outbreak. Betting companies in the UK are now part of the same business rates holiday like the other businesses in the retail, leisure, and hospitality industries.

The government grants will cover up to 80% of salaries for the workers that are unable to do their jobs during the shut-down. The chief executive of the BGC, Michael Dugher, said that the Council is satisfied with the government’s decision and he welcomes the government’s work to beat the virus and ensure that jobs across the country are protected. On top of that, as Mr Dugher explained, extending help on business rates to all businesses that have been closed is another needed measure that will protect thousands of jobs.

Apart from the business rates holiday and job retention scheme, the UK gambling sector will also benefit from other measures set by the Chancellor. The BGC said that almost 70,000 people working in the gambling industry were at risk of losing their jobs. According to them, this would mostly be due to the cancellation of many sports and racing events. However, the government measures will prevent this from happening.

Online gaming share prices rise significantly

Even though gaming companies have been caught in the middle of the Covid-19 outbreak, there are some companies that have seen share price rise last week. For example, 888 Holdings has seen its stock rise 62%, while NetEnt has seen 42% and Playtech 28%. Furthermore, even some land-based US companies such as Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International have seen share growth as well.

These numbers show that online casino, bingo, and poker providers operate on a daily basis and generate revenue. The investors are convinced that the revenue of gaming companies that are focused on non-sporting games will continue to increase. On the other side, sports betting companies will have to find alternatives such as virtual sports or eSports in order to operate successfully during the crisis.

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