DCMS: UK gambling divided on COVID-19 business resilience

A business survey carried out by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has revealed that UK gambling firms have been divided in their response to Coronavirus restrictions, with only one-third of corresponding companies accessing government support.

DCMS’ survey, entitled The Coronavirus Impact Business Survey, suggested that the majority of gambling companies were land-based, however the specific details of who was surveyed has not yet been revealed.

Of those surveyed, 20 operators had not signed up to the government’s furlough scheme. Three gambling companies had furloughed between 50% and 74% of staff, while 32 had furloughed between 75% and 100%.

30 gambling companies revealed that they had taken a 100% revenue hit since the lockdown, in stark contrast to the 2 which had seen revenues increase or remain the same.

14 of the gambling companies surveyed had seen revenue drop between 50% and 99%, while eight companies reported revenue decreases between 1% and 49%.

But despite these figures, 37 of the companies surveyed revealed that they had not requested government support or taken any further mitigating measures compared to 19 which had.

Betting shops in England were given the green light to reopen their doors on Monday after being closed since 23 March. One of the largest divisions that became apparent in the DCMS survey was the future prospects for trading.

Responding to questions on how long companies estimate that they can continue to trade, 20 companies believed that the future of their business was under threat – while 20 revealed that they were not concerned about future trading.

9 betting companies estimated that without further financial backing from the government, they could continue trading for one to three months. 20 bookmakers believed that they could continue trading for three to six months with additional support, while a further 20 believed they could trade for longer than six months.

A further five were uncertain as to how long they could continue to operate, while two had already shut their doors.

The survey comes at a difficult time for the betting industry, with a number of operators having to shift a large portion of their operations into the online space. With rising costs of rent on UK high streets and a three month hiatus of live sport, UK bookmakers will have to find new ways to mitigate these impacts.

Whilst DCMS’ survey is limited by its pool of gambling respondents, the true impact of COVID-19 disruptions will be revealed by sector Plcs publishing their interim trading statements during the June-to-July period.

Industry observers are awaiting betting Plcs to announce their trading results, following the three-month blackout of the global sports calendar.

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