National Treasury Statement MisunderstoodMarch 31, 2020 Matt Speakman
On March 17th, the Chief Exchequer, Sunak, rolled out the National Governments plan to cover small businesses from the heat of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.
However, one important note was captured by enthusiastic firms and was, unfortunately, misinterpreted by the Betting and Gambling Sector. The point from the chancellor read: “I am extending this business rates holiday to all businesses in those sectors, irrespective of their rate able value.
“That means every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, and restaurant and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector, will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months.”
As all assumed, the gambling industry falls under the leisure category, hence will benefit from the stated relief.
What it Actually Means
However, the mistake was later clarified by the treasury, stating that it had omitted the casinos, bingos as well as betting shops from 100% business rates holiday as they were classified as financial services rather than leisure sector.
Betting and Gambling Council (BGC), which is the sole betting and gambling association in the UK, expressed its shock and discontent, stating that gambling and betting firms are listed on the London Stock Exchange as part of the leisure industry.
BCG was further shocked by the disregard of the industry by the national government despite being a significant revenue generator across the country, generating more than 3 billion pounds annually in revenue.
The move by the ministry is a big blow to the industry, which has been facing significant criticisms from the mainstream media through misrepresentation of information.
According to recent statics, the gambling industry faced a deep dive in public acceptance in 2019, recording the highest negative perception from the public. 43% of the participants related gambling to crime rise, while only 29% saw no problem with gambling.
Steve Donoghue, a senior gambling consultant, believes that the same negative perception has been transmitted to the government, which doesn’t want to be seen as ‘promoting’ the gambling industry. He said: “Under the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, betting shops were class A2, which included financial and professional services other than health or medical services.
“But this ended with the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2015, which made them suis generis.
“Casinos and bingo halls have never been linked to financial services. So it can’t be this.” ng industry with financial aid during these trying moments.
A Growing Habit
Earlier this year, the government took the first jab at the gambling industry by introducing a stake reduction on all the odds. The impact of this move saw GVC Holdings, owner of Ladbrokes Coral, close down 13% of its land-based firms, including 900 more betting shops set to be closed down in the next two years.
The impact of these actions is not only felt by the firms, but also the employees who lose their jobs and the public that loses their revenue.
Betting Shops to Close
Due to lack of relief funding, more than 7000 high-street betting shops will have to close, and over 64,000 employees rendered jobless without a salary. This includes employees from casinos, bingo, and halls, which will be insolvent within a few days.