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UK's BGC urges next PM to tackle energy price hikes affecting the gambling industry


The UK’s Betting and Gaming Council has demanded “urgent action” by the next Prime Minister to protect the hospitality and leisure sector from “catastrophic” energy price hikes. Michael Dugher, CEO of the body that represents the UK’s regulated betting and gaming industry, stated that brick-and-mortar casinos and betting shops are being hit hard by soaring energy bills, “just like the rest of the hospitality sector.” 

Research carried out before the pandemic by ESA Retail found that 82% of customers of Britain’s betting shops and casinos visited at least once a week, with 89% of them going on to visit other shops in the area. But amid a global energy crisis, businesses are facing average increases of 300% under new deals being offered, according to a news report, which is putting pressure on their sustainability.

Michael Dugher’s warning comes after Rank Group revealed last week that energy costs hit GBP 23 million ($27 million) in the last financial year, up from GBP 13 million ($15.3 million), with concerns they could hit GBP 46 million ($54.6 million) this year at current market prices. 

— Betting and Gaming Council (@BetGameCouncil) August 22, 2022

The cost of simply doing business is rising at an exponential rate. If urgent action isn’t taken soon, continued energy price increases could have a catastrophic impact across the hospitality and leisure sector, including hitting our members,” Dugher stated.

Casinos are a vital pillar of the hospitality and tourism sector in cities and towns across the UK. Just like the rest of the hospitality sector they are struggling to build back after the global pandemic and now they face a new crisis,” he added. “Meanwhile bookmakers, which play a critical role on the UK’s hard-pressed high streets, face similar challenges. In short, any business which welcomes customers into a building must grapple with this energy emergency.”

A range of interventions have been suggested to protect businesses and bill payers from the price hikes, but no specific measures have been taken to protect the hospitality and leisure sectors, the Betting and Gaming Council argues.

Britain boasts 6,500 betting shops on high streets, plus 121 casinos. The BGC represents 95% of the UK’s regulated betting and gaming businesses, which directly employs 44,000 people and supports a further 48,000 jobs, according to the body.

A real need to support our casinos, bingo clubs & betting shops & all of hospitality & leisure. Energy costs are huge for all leisure operators who operate out of physical premises.

— Brigid Simmonds BGC (@BrigidSimmonds) August 22, 2022

The regulated UK industry contributes GBP 4 billion ($4.7 billion) to the country’s economy, and generates GBP 2 billion ($2.3 billion) in taxes each year, says the BGC. This includes 537 independent betting shops that have over 2,700 employees. However, over 200 Independent LBOs have closed in the last 5 years, shutting down over 50 businesses.

This latest setback comes amid continued delays to expected reforms in the betting and gaming sector, set to be outlined in a new White Paper. Following UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation, which came as a consequence of a decimated party that also saw the exit of Gambling Minister Chris Philp, proposals to reform gambling laws were postponed for a fourth time. 

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