UK DCMS Takes Pulse of Gambling Companies During Pandemic

  • DCMS wants to use the survey findings to help shape government aid
  • Half of the gambling companies that provided an answer said their business is at risk
  • Most respondents were not confident that their business could survive past 2020
Gambling shop in the UK
More than half of the UK gambling businesses that responded to the DCMS Coronavirus Impact Business Survey have made no money during the pandemic lockdown. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Looking for snapshot of gaming industry

About half of the United Kingdom’s gambling businesses are not sure if they will be able to survive past the end of the year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this according to survey data collected by the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The DCMS and YouGov solicited responses for the Coronavirus Impact Business Survey from stakeholders from April 23 to May 22, combining the results into one dataset.

Nearly 4,000 businesses responded to the survey, though just a tiny fraction of them were gambling companies. The DCMS did not differentiate companies by size, so a billion-dollar business counts exactly the same as a small shop.

The department published the survey results on Wednesday, noting that the businesses that replied to the DCMS’s request tended to report worse prospects than those who responded to the YouGov portion, as YouGov respondents skewed much more heavily toward digital companies. Businesses that are less reliant on brick-and-mortar sales have been able to weather the COVID-19 storm better than their land-based counterparts.

Most companies have gotten clobbered

Of the “headline” questions in the survey, the first simply asked businesses if they believe their “ability to trade as a viable entity is under threat” because of the pandemic. Of the 46 gambling companies who answered, it was evenly split yes and no, with 20 each. Six respondents said they did not know either way.

The questionnaire drilled deeper in the next poll, asking how much longer respondents think their businesses will survive. Again, just looking at gambling companies, nine felt they had more than a month but fewer than three months left, 20 believed they had more than three and fewer than six months, and 20 were confident they could survive for more than six months. Five did not know, and two were already out of business. No respondents said that their businesses had less than a month left.

30 said that their revenue in the month leading up to the survey was down a full 100%

Illustrating how hard the gambling firms in the UK have been hit, 30 said that their revenue in the month leading up to the survey was down a full 100%. Eight said their revenue was down 1-49% and 14 replied that revenue had declined by more than half. Two did not know. Just two gambling companies had seen an increase in revenue.

When asked what percentage of their employees, if any, had been furloughed during the lockdowns, 32 said at least 75%. Three said from 50-74% and one said from 1-24%. Twenty companies replied that they had not let anybody go.

Poker community feeling the pain

The DCMS will use the results of the survey to help guide government support as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. UK casinos are still under lockdown, even though many businesses have been allowed to reopen. In England, casinos will be permitted to welcome back customers on July 4. Betting shops, because they lend themselves to customers getting in an out quickly, reopened this week.

known for its quality, locals-focused poker rooms

It appears that one casualty of the coronavirus pandemic will be Genting, which has 42 casinos throughout the UK. Though the company has not officially confirmed anything, it has been reported that it will end all UK live poker operations, even when the casino lockdown is lifted. Genting is known for its quality, locals-focused poker rooms and the low buy-in Genting Poker Series, which began in 2012.

Genting UK has also warned that it might have to close its casinos in Torquay, Bristol, and Margate.