BGC calls for extension to furlough scheme

The Betting and Gaming Council has urged the UK government to extend its furlough scheme.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged the UK government to “act fast” and extend the coronavirus furlough scheme to help safeguard gambling sector jobs and protect casino venues.

BGC urges government to extend furlough scheme

The UK government’s Job Retention scheme was introduced in March in order to help keep people employed during the coronavirus pandemic and country-wide lockdown. The scheme is set to finish at the end of October as some aspects of the scheme are now beginning to wind down.

From this month, UK employers will be required to pay the national insurance and pension contributions for staff. In September employers will be required to pay 20% of their employee’s wages and this will rise to 40% in October.

This comes after the BGC criticized the UK government’s decision to delay the reopening of casino venues in England, warning that the delay could cause half of the UK casino workforce to lose their jobs. Casinos in England will not be able to reopen until 15 August at the earliest, but this could change further down the line.

BGC chief executive Michael Dugher said: “Casino operators have done everything asked of them by Public Health England; they have gone to extraordinary lengths and cost to ensure their venues are Covid-19 secure.

“They were rightly given the green light to reopen by public health officials who recognised the significant investment operators had made and the negligible risk they posed.”

Protecting casino venues

The BGC also warned that by failing to extend the furlough scheme, some of the UK’s most famous casino venues may be required to close. Dugher noted that the London Hippodrome in the West End and Les Ambassadeurs casino in Mayfair were at high risk.

Dugher said: “Some of Britain’s most iconic casinos, who attract high spending visitors from around the world, are sitting idle whilst pubs and restaurants round the corner are open and doing a roaring trade.

“The government must step in to save these businesses before it’s too late. As a first step, they should extend the full furlough scheme to help offset the £14m casinos are expected to lose as a result of the two week delay and compensate casinos for the wasted costs of the late change of decision on their reopening.”

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