Betting and Gaming Council Joins Calls for Urgent Action on Energy Crisis to Protect Hospitality and Leisure Industries

Urgent action is needed by the next PM to protect the hospitality and leisure sector from “catastrophic” energy price hikes, say the standards body representing the UK’s regulated betting and gaming industry.

Michael Dugher, CEO of the Betting and Gaming Council, which represents 95 per cent of the UK’s regulated betting and gaming businesses, said bricks-and-mortar casinos and betting shops were being hit hard by soaring energy bills, just like the rest of the hospitality sector.

Britain boasts 6,500 betting shops on hard-pressed high streets plus 121 casinos supporting the hospitality and tourism sector.

Together they directly employ 44,000 people and support a further 48,000 jobs, while contributing £4bn to the UK economy and generating £2bn in taxes each year. This includes 537 independent betting shops who have over 2700 employees.

Over 200 Independent LBOs have closed in the last 5 years, shutting down over 50 businesses.

Research carried out before the pandemic by ESA Retail found that 82 per cent of their customers visited at least once a week, with 89 per cent of them going on to visit other shops in the area.

But amid a global energy crisis, businesses are facing average increases of 300 per cent under new deals being offered, according to news reports.

Michael Dugher’s warning comes after leading member Rank Group last week (THURS) revealed energy costs hit £23 million in the last financial year, up from £13 million, with concerns they could hit £46 million this year at current market prices.

He said: “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.

“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.

“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.

This latest setback comes amid continued delays to expected reforms of the betting and gaming sector, set to be outlined in a new White Paper.

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