The Betting and Gaming Council has called for the UK Government to step up and extend the furlough scheme. This comes after the government delayed the reopening of casinos even further, whilst at the same time ending the furlough scheme.
The Furlough Scheme Impact
During the coronavirus pandemic, we saw the government pick up 80% of worker’s salaries up to £2500 per month. This scheme had a massive impact on the gambling industry as it helped to safeguard jobs and protect historic casino venues.
However, this scheme is due to finish at the end of October and there are already drawing it back in stages. From August, employers have to pay pension contributions and national insurance for staff members, then, next month, they will be asked to cover 20% of staff wages. This amount then rises to 40% in October.
Why Is the Furlough Scheme Ending Unfair on the Gambling Industry?
The gambling industry is up in arms about the furlough scheme ending completely in October and being asked to partly pay wages from this month as they still have not been given the green light to open.
Casinos had been given the go-ahead to open in July, however, this was pushed back by at least 2 weeks and won’t be reviewed until August 15th. The casino industry argues that this is very unfair as other areas of the gambling industry have been allowed to open, including betting shops back in June and bingo halls in July. Alongside casinos, places like bowling alleys and nightclubs are also not allowed to reopen and sporting events with a smaller audience have also been pushed back.
With plans being halted to allow casinos to reopen, this has raised the question of how the industry will survive and the many job losses that may occur as a result.
What Did the Betting and Gaming Council Have to Say?
The decision to delay the opening of casinos, according to the Betting and Gaming Council, could lead to job losses for half the UK casino’s workforce. Without government support, even more jobs than this estimation could be gone.
The Betting and Gaming Council have asked for the furlough scheme to be extended as they are still closed under government rules and this 2 week delay is estimated to cost the industry £14 million. With the 15th August date possibly being pushed back even further, they argue that this won’t be sustainable for their business.
Furthermore, the Betting and Gaming Council chief executive, Michael Dugher, highlighted that casinos had gone above and beyond to ensure they were safe to reopen and have made significant investments to do this. He also added that many iconic venues in the UK could permanently close because of this decision. This includes venues such as Les Ambassadeurs in Mayfair and the London Hippodrome.
At the moment, it doesn’t appear as though the government will be extending the furlough scheme for any sector.