The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has written to the Welsh government, urging for a rethink on the terms attached to its business relief programme, which have excluded bookmakers and gambling enterprises from retail reprieves.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher has written to Welsh First Minister Rebecca Evans warning the government that more than 2,000 jobs will be placed at risk unless it expands its business relief programme.
The Welsh government has chosen not to follow UK precedent, excluding bookmakers and gambling establishments from securing retail rate discounts – with betting shops expected to pay full rent during the lockdown period.
“Without assistance with business rates relief, similar to that offered to other sectors in Wales, including other parts of the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries, there is a real danger that betting shops and casinos will permanently close leading to the direct loss of over 2000 jobs in Wales,” Dugher wrote.
“We represent the regulated betting and gaming industry and as a body are committed to driving up standards across the sector.”
The BGC reminded the government of the 300 betting shops and four casinos operating across Wales, ‘all of which face financial ruin unless the government steps in’.
Furthermore, the council reminded Senedd Cymru of the devastating knock-on effect that gambling closures would have on the Welsh hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors.
Dugher continued: “Betting shops, bingo halls and casinos in England were thrown a lifeline when the UK Government announced it was extending its business rates relief scheme to cover their premises as well, recognising the contribution they make to the economy, to sport and the vital part they are playing in the national effort and in communities to cope with the virus.
“I don’t for a single second think that the Welsh Government is saying that 2,000 workers in Wales who are employed in the regulated betting industry are less worthy of the support they get in England, but we urgently need a re-think on rates. These 2,000 jobs are hardworking men and women with bills to pay and families to care for. Their jobs are worth every bit as much as someone doing the same job in England.”