One year’s business rates relief extended to land-based gambling sector

It has been confirmed today (25 March 2020) that land-based gambling premises – “bingo halls, casinos, betting shops and arcades” that are the subject of enforced closure by reason of the coronavirus crisis – will now qualify for the same business rates “holiday” as all other retail, hospitality and leisure sector businesses, meaning that they will incur no liability to business rates for the year to 31 March 2021.

As we have previously reported, it was originally proposed that they would not qualify for business rates relief. That was before they were subjected to enforced closure.

You can download below the following government publications confirming this, each of which have been published today:

This has prompted the following positive reaction from the Betting and Gaming Council:

Standards body Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), which represents 90 per cent of the UK’s betting and gaming industry including betting shops and casinos, today welcomes confirmation that our members will qualify for a business rates holiday like all other businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality industry.

The BGC had called for inclusion in the scheme following the Government’s order on Friday 20 March to shutdown all casinos, betting shops and bingo clubs. Without the ability to generate revenue, the BGC had said that the majority of employment in the betting and gaming industry – around 64,000 jobs – were at risk. In addition, the lack of football and horseracing, which account for 75 per cent of the UK licensed sports betting market, has resulted a substantial drop in total gambling.

The BGC has strongly welcomed the Chancellor’s unprecedented response to the threat posed to millions of jobs from the coronavirus and made it clear its top priority is to keep customers and staff safe, and to keep people in their jobs. Although overall gambling has fallen significantly, BGC have been stepping safer gambling measures.

BGC members directly employ over 70,000 people and pay over £3 billion in taxes in each year, contribute £350 million to horse racing and between £120 million and £200 million to the UK tourism industry through international visitors and their spend.

Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive said:

“The Government are clearly working night and day to beat the virus and to ensure that jobs and businesses throughout our country are protected. On top of the help on employment, extending help on business rates to all businesses that have had to shut down is another much-needed shot in the arm that will help to protect tens of thousands of jobs.  On behalf of those workers in our companies, I’d like to thank the Treasury and cross-party MPs for this and to pay tribute in particular to the DCMS, including our outstanding Minister Nigel Huddleston, for all their support.

“Our industry will in turn do its absolute upmost to help with the fight against the virus and play our part in this historic national effort, including offering up staff and premises to help. And although gambling has fallen markedly with betting shops and casinos closing, and with the lack of sport which accounts for a big chunk of online betting too, we are also stepping up our safer gambling measures at this time”.