The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) says the increase in energy prices could have a catastrophic impact on land-based gaming operations.
UK.- The British gaming industry lobby and standard association The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has called for urgent action on energy prices to avoid a “catastrophic” impact on land-based gaming operations. It’s calling on the UK’s next prime minister to tackle the increasing burden of energy costs for the hospitality and leisure sectors.
The BGC said that Britain’s 121 land-based casinos and 6,500 betting shops were being hit hard by soaring energy bills along with the rest of the hospitality sector. It reminded the government that the sector directly employs 44,000 people and supports a further 48,000 jobs, while contributing £4bn to the UK economy and generating £2bn in taxes each year.
It said that 537 independent betting shops have more than 2,700 employees and noted that more than 200 had closed in the last five years. Research carried out before the pandemic by ESA Retail found that 82 per cent of their customers visited betting shops once a week, with 89 per cent of them going on to visit other shops nearby.
However, amid a global energy crisis, businesses are facing average increases of 300 per cent on their bills under the new deals being offered.
The warning comes after major BGC member Rank Group last week revealed that its energy costs hit £23m in the last financial year, up from £13m the year before. It fears they could hit £46m this year at current market prices.
BGC CEO Michael Dugher said: “The cost of simply doing business is rising at an exponential rate. If urgent action isn’t taken soon, continued energy price increases could have a catastrophic impact across the hospitality and leisure sector, including hitting our members.
“Casinos are a vital pillar of the hospitality and tourism sector in cities and towns across the UK. Just like the rest of the hospitality sector, they are struggling to build back after the global pandemic and now they face a new crisis.
“Meanwhile, bookmakers, which play a critical role on the UK’s hard-pressed high streets, face similar challenges. In short, any business which welcomes customers into a building must grapple with this energy emergency.”
The BGC noted that a range of interventions have been suggested to protect businesses and bill-payers from price hikes, but no specific measures have been taken to protect the hospitality and leisure sectors.
Meanwhile, the UK government’s review of gambling legislation remains on hold pending the appointment of a new prime minister. Parts of its contents have been leaked, but it’s unclear whether the new administration will want to put its own stamp on new legislation.
The Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS) has put itself forward to run the expected new British gambling ombudsman. The body is likely to be created as a result of the UK government’s delayed review of gambling legislation.
While the government may decide to create the ombudsman from scratch, IBAS said that it could transition to fill the role itself much faster than it would be possible to create an entirely new service. It’s also outlined operational and financial matters, with a proposed organisational structure and a roadmap for its transition.