As we already reported, many sports events and conferences across the world are postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This will have a significant impact on the sports betting and casino industry. In addition, the current situation has had a major impact on the finances of many of the UK gambling businesses, while H2 Gambling Capital said that it expects global gambling revenues to fall by 11%. Also, there is a UK initiative to convince gambling companies to enforce a wagering cap and limit players to betting only up to £50 on a daily basis.
In the current state of affairs, the UK 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. Alongside this, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to help protect jobs that are affected by these closures.
The closure is immediately effective until further notice
The news about closing betting shops, casinos and bingo halls comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the UK is increasing the measures aimed at preventing the COVID-19 peak. For that reason, it was necessary for the government to shut down sectors from the entertainment industry. As Mr Johnson explained, the UK government will do everything in their power to help. This decision is immediately effective and also includes nightclubs, theatres, gyms, museums, restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, and leisure centres. According to the Prime Minister, the restrictions would be reviewed on a monthly basis.
The UK Prime Minister announced these measures on March 20th and all facilities were required to close that evening and not open again the following day. Furthermore, MPs called for a block on customers that open multiple accounts on online gambling sites, as well as quicker intervention with customers who display signs of problem gambling. The government explained that these measures are enforceable by law due to the threat to public health. Any business that will operate in contravention of the Health Protection will be considered as breaking the law.
A series of financial support measures were also announced
In addition, the UK government announced a series of measures to financially support the affected businesses and their employees. As we mentioned above, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set out details of the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme” that was created to protect people’s jobs affected by the current situation. If a business chooses to retain an employee during the period of closure, the government grants will cover 80% of the employee’s salary.
Mr Sunak said that these measures will help workers to retain their jobs even if their employers cannot afford to pay them. This scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open for at least three months. As Mr Sunak explained, the scheme might be extended for longer if necessary.
However, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is not satisfied with this set of measures due to, as its chief executive explained, the exclusion of gambling businesses. For that reason, the BGC will continue pressing the Chancellor to secure more support for gambling businesses, in regards to the measures that were announced last week.