Betting and Gaming Council Calls on Sunak to Protect Casinos

Trade body state “decisive action” is needed to protect eight high-end casinos in London including Les Ambassadeurs and Crown Aspinalls London.

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Betting and Gaming Council Calls on Sunak to Protect London Casinos © Pixabay.

The Betting and Gaming Council, the trade body that represents 80% of the gaming industry, has written to the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak asking for government help to protect London’s prestigious casinos. The BGC state that “decisive action” is needed to protect the venues as they attempt to recover after lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The BGC has stated venues such as Mayfair’s famous Les Ambassadeurs, Crown Aspinalls London, and the Crockfords Club, alongside others, are in serious danger of closure unless the government amends UK casino legislation which the trade body describes as “outdated”.

The trade body argues that section 81 of the 2005 Gambling Act, which outlaws casinos providing credit to customers forces visitors to use cheques if they wish to gamble at the venues. The BGC state this model of payment is expensive for the casinos and is outdated, and there are cheaper and more readily available options.

The current regulations state: A non-remote casino operating licence or a non-remote bingo operating licence shall by virtue of this subsection be subject to the condition that the licensee may not give credit in connection with gambling, participate in, arrange, permit or knowingly facilitate the giving of credit in connection with gambling.

The Betting and Gaming Council want amendments to this Act, wanting to be able to provide an advance funds facility, regulated by the UK Gambling Commission, that will allow customers from abroad settle their account with one transaction at the end of their visit. A facility they are prevented from offering under current laws. Michael Dugher, the BGC CEO, said this change was needed to promote Britain’s casino industry to foreign visitors both during the global coronavirus pandemic and when the UK leaves the European Union on the 1st January 2021 after the transition period that is currently in place.

Dugher stressed that the chancellor needed to act quickly to implement this small change which he believed would have a “massive impact on the ability of high-end casinos to reopen again and to recover their business”. He questioned the current requirement to use an outdated payment system, saying:

Cheques are a 20th-century payment instrument that is no longer fit for the 21st-century customer or the global banking environment, but there has to be a suitable replacement for those businesses that, through outdated law, are unable to transact with their customers any other way. Michael Dugher, BGC CEO

“Our high-end casinos are a major ingredient in London’s reputation as a ‘go-to’ destination for high-spending foreign tourists. This can all help to get the UK economy moving again,” Dugher added.

High-end casinos in the capital provide much-needed employment and revenue, the eight casinos mentioned in the BGC correspondence employ 1,350 people and contribute approximately £150m to the Treasury in tax. The casinos also benefit the local economy, generating £188m for London’s gross domestic product and visitors tourism spend is estimated at over £120m.

Casinos had been due to reopen on the 1st August, a date that was pushed to the 15th August due to an increase of Covid-19 cases. The BGC called for the extension of the government’s furlough scheme to compensate for this longer closure.

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