The Betting and Gaming Council has welcomed the new scheme announced by the British chancellor but says the industry needs more support.
UK.- Following its calls for urgent support for the gaming sector, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has welcomed Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a new Job Support Scheme but says more assistance is needed.
The industry association said it would rather rely on trade than government subsidies and that the scheme “does not alleviate much of the sector’s concerns”.
The BGC had warned that thousands and jobs and the future of many casinos were at risk due to a new 10pm curfew imposed by the government as a Covid-19 prevention measure from last night (September 24).
Sunak has now announced plans for a six-month nationwide Job Support Scheme from November 1. The scheme will replace the current furlough programme which expires at the end of October.
The new scheme will top up salaries at firms that are unable to take back employees on a full-time basis, but staff must be working at least one-third of their contracted hours to qualify.
The government said the objective is to protect only “viable” jobs.
Sunak said: “It is fundamentally wrong to hold people in job that only exist inside furlough; we need to protect jobs that provide genuine security.”
The employer and government will each pay one-third of the remaining wages for hours that are not worked, ensuring employees get at least 77 per cent of their pay.
The scheme will be open to all small-to-medium-sized businesses, but larger companies will need to prove that turnover has fallen during the pandemic to access the support.
The government’s contribution will be capped at £697.92 of each employee’s monthly salary.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, said: “The Chancellor has gone some way towards providing support for casinos, who are an important part of the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries that will help power the country’s economic recovery. We asked for his help and we’re pleased that he has listened.
“However, given the unique challenge that the curfew presents to an industry which does between 50 and 70 per cent of its trade after 10pm, the package as it stands does not alleviate much of the sector’s concerns.
“Casinos have suffered considerable blows in recent days and weeks and will need all the support they can get to be able to play their part in the recovery of towns, cities and communities.
“The wage subsidy scheme will help in some way as the industry continues to reel from the curfew restrictions. Operators would far rather be able to trade than rely on subsidies but after a gruelling few days this is some respite.
“Casinos are very proud of the high numbers of viable jobs that they sustain and now have a better chance of emerging on the other side of this curfew period, thanks to the chancellor’s scheme.”
Sunak also announced that the deadline for all Covid-19 loans will be extended until the end of the year.
The VAT reduction to 5 per cent for the hospitality and tourism sectors will remain in place until March 2021, but the gambling sector still does not qualify for the reduction.