Global sports betting and gaming group Entain requested landlords in the UK for rent cuts for its high-street betting shops ahead of the planned re-opening of the retail gambling sector in the country.
Rent Reduction Will Ensure Business Sustainability
The owner of Coral and Ladbrokes sent the letter only to landlords which have leases due to expire within the next two years. Currently, Entain operates more than 3,000 licensed high-street betting shops in over 30 countries.
Entain, via its recently appointed chief executive officer Jette Nygaard-Andersen, pledged not to close any more retail venues regardless of the material impact from ongoing virus-related restrictions on the business.
The written request outlined that a reduction in rent for the properties would ease overall operational costs and allow betting shops to remain competitive and secure employment for thousands of workers in the retail sector.
Retail Shops Await Re-Opening Day
High-street betting shops are set to re-open on April 12, followed by land-based casinos on May 17, according to the current roadmap set forth by the government with regards to different businesses exiting the UK’s third national lockdown.
The retail gambling sector suffered most due to the temporary closure of facilities for periods of time in 2020 and 2021, but, along with other industries, received financial support from the government. Recently, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced another extension for the furlough scheme until September, a decision that was welcomed by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
The gaming industry body outlined the decision to extend business rates relief and introduce grants for hard-pressed high street businesses and hospitality venues, besides extending the furlough scheme, would help them and their workforce, including the 44,000 people employed in retail betting shops and land-based casinos.
The BGC was left disappointed by the decision to leave the 173rd edition of the Grand National for April 10, 2 days prior the re-opening of retail betting shops, despite the request for a delay.
The industry body argued the biggest horse racing event nationwide and the busiest day for sports betting operators should coincide with the re-opening of high-street betting shops.
Land-based gaming facilities were left almost empty-handed in Scotland, though, after operators were told they would be allowed to re-open in early June, despite the request from the BGC.
The industry body cited a report by a prominent hygiene expert, Dr. Lisa Ackerley, who inspected some of the premises and earmarked casinos as safe to the public, and following the controversial decision which singled out casinos and restaurants, sent a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The BGC expressed concerns about the 700 people employed in the sector who were left in limbo by a baffling decision backed with no scientific data and reasoning.