UK Government extends business rates relief to gambling sector

The gambling industry will now qualify for business rates relief.

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has praised the UK government after it confirmed that gambling businesses will qualify for the business rates relief package intended to soften the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gambling companies and the business rate relief package

Last week, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, revealed several new measures to help businesses that may be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. One of these measures would make all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses exempt from paying business rates for 12 months.

When the relief package was initially announced, the BGC criticized the government for not including the gambling industry. However, the government has now announced the relief package will apply to land-based businesses including casinos, bingo halls and betting shops.

Gambling businesses in the country will now be eligible for government grants that cover up to 80% of salaries for workers who are unable to work due to the shutdown of gambling businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic. This news comes after the government instructed all bingo halls, betting shops and casinos to close their doors to help halt the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

On top of this, gambling businesses will benefit from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, a 12-month interest-free scheme. The government has also confirmed to defer VAT payments for business for the next financial quarter.

Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive said: “The Government are clearly working night and day to beat the virus and to ensure that jobs and businesses throughout our country are protected. On top of the help on employment, extending help on business rates to all businesses that have had to shut down is another much-needed shot in the arm that will help to protect tens of thousands of jobs.  On behalf of those workers in our companies, I’d like to thank the Treasury and cross-party MPs for this and to pay tribute in particular to the DCMS, including our outstanding Minister Nigel Huddleston, for all their support.

“Our industry will in turn do its absolute upmost to help with the fight against the virus and play our part in this historic national effort, including offering up staff and premises to help. And although gambling has fallen markedly with betting shops and casinos closing, and with the lack of sport which accounts for a big chunk of online betting too, we are also stepping up our safer gambling measures at this time.”

The impact of coronavirus on the industry

The virus pandemic has had far reaching implications for all sectors, including the gambling industry. According to the BGC, the closure of business and the inability to generate revenue, the majority of the 70,000 workers in the UK gambling sector were at risk of losing their jobs.

The BGC said that this would be due to the cancellation of several major sporting events which account for 75% of the UK betting spend. Members of the BGC pay more than £3bn in annual taxes and contribute £350m to the horse racing sector. BGC Members also contribute between £120m and £200m to the UK tourism sector.

In the UK, the Jockey Club announced that the 2020 Randox Health Grand National Festival will not take place this year. The English Premier League (EPL), FA, EFL and WSL have also agreed to postpone all professional matches in England. Greyhound racing events will continue behind closed doors without an audience.

In the US, the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, decided to postpone sporting events indefinitely after a player for the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. The NCAA has also put March Madness on hold.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government also announced the Olympics will be postponed until next year

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