The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed the UK government’s decision to extend its furlough scheme.

Non-essential businesses in England, including casinos and betting shops, have closed their doors again in a second nationwide lockdown this year.

Businesses will need to remain closed until 2nd December at the earliest, which is also the end date for the latest furlough scheme extension.

Protecting jobs when they need it most 

Land-based gambling in the UK has endured a challenging year. Casinos in England were among some of the last venues to reopen at the end of the first lockdown, only welcoming customers back from mid-August. Before the second shutdown, they also had to close at 10 pm latest. Betting shops had been open since 15th June, with bingo halls following suit on 4th July.

In an article published on the BGC website, Chief Executive Michael Dugher said the following:

“Nothing matters more to our industry than the safety of our staff and customers, which is why we want to contribute to the national effort to defeat this virus.

“We also welcome the support for businesses forced to close under the second lockdown.”

BGC urges a “science-led” approach 

Despite welcoming the extended furlough scheme, Dugher was critical of the government’s decision to bring the land-based gambling sector to a halt again. He is hopeful that once the second lockdown is over, the government will adopt a different approach.

The BGC’s head continued:

“When we exit this, the government must have a science-led approach and avoid the arbitrary and unnecessary decisions that led to random closures of casinos and betting shops, which damage employment and revenues to the Exchequer.

“It’s also important that when the latest lockdown is over, betting shops are allowed to open safely along with other non-essential retail, as they were in June. Casinos, which have the best anti-Covid measures operating anywhere in hospitality and entertainment, should also reopen at the same time.

“At a time when there is widespread despair among sporting bodies, the Government also needs to recognise that a healthy betting industry is vital to the funding of sport and that betting shops, in particular, are critical to the financing of horseracing.”

10-pledge anti-COVID plan reaffirmed 

Yesterday, the BGC also reiterated its 10-pledge plan to assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Measures include welfare checks and wellbeing help for staff, along with the active promotion of depositing limits. A ‘one-strike-and-you’re-out’ approach is also in force for affiliates who breach pledges, as well as interventions if customers raise their gambling times beyond ‘pre-crisis’ levels.

Safer gambling messages are also to be placed on all BGC members’ sites, while illegal operator activity is also to be reported.

Dugher said:

“Our members did not hesitate to sign up to our 10-pledge action plan in March, and I am delighted that they have done so again as we, regrettably, go back into some form of lockdown, admittedly with far fewer restrictions this time.”