BGC Calling on UK Government to Extend Furlough Scheme for Casinos

  • The UK government is tapering down furlough payments for casino workers
  • Casinos now have to pay pension and National Insurance contributions despite closures
  • The two-week delay for reopening has cost the sector an estimated £14m ($18.35m)
  • England casinos were to reopen on August 1, but the date was pushed to August 15
Sorry We're Closed sign
The Betting and Gaming Council is urging the UK government to extend its furlough scheme to cover casino workers amid continuing closures. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Continuing closures

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) is calling on the UK government to extend its furlough scheme to continue covering casino workers in order for the casinos to survive. 

In a post on the casino industry association’s website, council chief executive Michael Dugher said the government has decided to start tapering down furlough payments. It is also making employers pay pension and National Insurance contributions even though the casinos remain closed, putting significant strain on the financial well-being of many of these casinos.

make up for the £14m ($18.35m) the sector is set to lose in this period

Dugher wants an extension to the full furlough scheme that will cover the casinos for the additional two-week shutdown. This would make up for the £14m ($18.35m) the sector is set to lose in this period and “compensate casinos for wasted costs” resulting from the last-minute change of mind. 

The government postponed the reopening of casinos from August 1 to August 15. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the delay on July 31, less than 12 hours before the venues were set to reopen.

Job cuts unavoidable

The casinos are all ready to open, having already spent £6m ($7.86m) to ensure that the properties meet health and safety standards, according to the BGC. When they resume operations, they could start to provide tax revenue to the government once again. The council estimates that casino contributions to the government’s coffers add up to £300m ($393m) each year. 

Dugher pointed out that restaurants and pubs have been able to reopen while casinos that attract high-spending visitors are still shut. The BGC tweeted about the potential for some historic venues to be forced to permanently close:

Casinos in England have been closed since March 20, with a lot of uncertainty abound about the future. Some casino companies in the region have already announced that job cuts are on the way. The BGC estimates that there could be as many as 6,000 jobs lost as a result of these delays, a number that could rise if there are continuing problems. 

The UK economy as a whole continues to struggle, with employment in the region falling by the largest amount in more than a decade in the second quarter. From April to June, employment figures fell by 220,000 people.

All ready to go

Casinos have gone to “extraordinary lengths and cost” to ensure that the properties are COVID-19 secure. This includes strict social distancing measures, advanced hygiene protocols, and track and trace systems.

Public Health England had previously given casino facilities the green light to reopen. Bingo halls and amusement arcades have already welcomed back customers.

casinos ended up donating about £200,000 ($262,000) worth of fresh food and drink to local charities

After stocking up in anticipation of reopening, casinos ended up donating about £200,000 ($262,000) worth of fresh food and drink to local charities when the latest delay was announced. 

While casinos in England remain closed, Scottish casinos are tentatively hoping that they will be able to restart operations on August 24. There has been no indication as to when the casinos in Wales can reopen.