Grants announced ahead of Wednesday’s Annual Budget
England’s betting shops are on the list of non-essential businesses that can apply for direct cash payouts of up to £6,000 ($7,225) per site, after details of a new £5bn ($6bn) government grant scheme emerged ahead of Wednesday’s 2021 budget.
The UK’s Betting & Gaming Council (BGC) said it would “warmly welcome” the grants for betting shops. It also called on the government for more business support and repeated its appeal to “extend business rates relief for another year”:
The industry representative’s tweet comes after BGC CEO Michael Dugher sent a letter to Chief Finance Minister Rishi Sunak on February 26, setting out the BGC’s five-point business support plan ahead of the government’s Annual Budget speech on March 3.
Action set for April
Betting shops in England join almost 700,000 non-essential retail businesses – including shops, hotels, and restaurants – that are eligible for ‘restart grants’ that local authorities will, from April, disburse directly to them. The funds, intended to support businesses when they resume trading, will supersede the monthly grant system currently in place.
While businesses in England are eager to resume trading, a BGC spokesman on Sunday said that the government should continue to offer its support, given “the pressure independent betting shops are under.”
BGC hopes “the forthcoming Budget will be a springboard to recovery”
Dugher’s letter, meanwhile, highlighted to Sunak the important contribution the betting and gaming industry makes to the UK economy. He added that the BGC hopes “the forthcoming Budget will be a springboard to recovery.”
Help Scotland and Wales, don’t increase taxes
Extending business rates relief for another year tops the BGC’s five-point plan to support casinos and betting shops. Dugher said in his letter to chancellor Sunak: “With premises shut for much of the past year, this would help protect jobs and remove a major financial pressure on businesses.”
Another major point raised in the letter to 11 Downing Street was assurance that government will make funding available to devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations. Dugher pointed out how the governments of Scotland and Wales refused to offer business rates relief to gambling entities, which “has sadly had a disproportionate impact on our smaller independent businesses, many of them family run.”
Dugher also warned the chancellor not to further increase taxes or duties, saying it would endanger the regulated UK market and speed up the exponential growth of the illegal online market. The CEO added that the UK government should also remove “the damaging 10 pm curfew” placed on casinos.