The Betting and Gaming Council /BGC/, the gaming body that represents 90% of the betting and gaming industry in the UK, has issued a statement regarding the unprecedented package of measures introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak last week, praising the government for the magnitude of its intervention to help businesses that were affected by the coronavirus /Covid-19/ spread.
Business Holiday Rate Relief
After initially excluding the betting and gaming companies from the list of businesses and premises in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sector that were ordered to close and eligible for the business rate relief scheme, a further government announcement placed land-based businesses such as betting shops, casinos and bingo halls among those applicable for the business rate holiday offered for a period of 12 months and BGC was pleased to see the industry being rightly treated.
Keep Workers On Payroll
Another measure that was introduced was a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, under which affected employers will be supported to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for employees that would have otherwise been laid off. As per the scheme, HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers’ wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
“Casinos and betting shops together support the majority of employment in the betting and gaming industry – around 64,000 jobs. Without the ability to generate revenue from football and horseracing, which account for 75 per cent of the UK licensed sports betting market, these employment costs were simply unsustainable going forward.”Michael Dugher, CEO, BGC
Access To Financing
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, another measure of the list, will allow companies to have access to loans of up to £5 million, interest-free up to 12 months, through the British Business Bank, which paired with the deferral of VAT for the next quarter that was offered by the government, is aimed at providing the necessary liquidity for the businesses when they re-open.
In terms of financing, the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility was introduced, provided by the Bank of England that will buy short-term debt from larger companies, to help them avoid short-term funding squeeze and facilitate financing short-term liabilities.
In addition, UK Government will bring forward legislation to allow SMEs and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay /SSP/ paid for sickness absence caused by the virus, to refund up to 2 weeks for every employee sick from the covid-19 disease, for all employers that have up to 250 employees.
For small businesses, grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief, in addition to grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property valued between £15,000 and £51,000, were among the measures proposed.