By Iqbal Johal
The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has urged the Welsh government to re-think its business rate relief to include high street betting shops, bingo halls and casinos, to help them cope with the coronavirus.
In a letter to Welsh finance minister Rebecca Evans, BGC CEO Michael Dugher warned that unless urgent action is taken to protect such businesses, more than 2,000 jobs in the country are at risk.
In March, the UK government expanded its business rates retail discount to cover betting shops, bingo halls and casinos, meaning they will receive 100% business rate reliefs due to closing their doors to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
But that didn’t apply to the devolved Welsh government, who’s version of the policy doesn’t apply to betting shops.
According to the BGC, Wales has more than 300 betting shops and four casinos, which may all be at risk if the Welsh government fails to step in.
In his letter, Dugher said: “Without assistance with business rates relief, similar to that offered to other sectors in Wales, including other parts of the hospitality, leisure and entertainment industries, there is a real danger that betting shops and casinos will permanently close leading to the direct loss of over 2,000 jobs in Wales. The industry in Wales is at risk of suffering a body blow from which it may never recover unless the Government in Cardiff acts. These 2,000 jobs are hardworking men and women with bills to pay and families to care for. Their jobs are worth every bit as much as someone doing the same job in England.”