Rishi Sunak urged to protect high end casinos and London's reputation as the 'go to' destination for big-spending tourists
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to take decisive action to secure the future of some of the UK’s top casinos.
The eight high-end venues – which between them employ 1,350 workers and contribute tens of millions of a pounds a year to the Treasury – face having to close their doors for good at the end of this year without an urgent change to outdated legislation.
They include big name establishments such as Les Ambassadeurs Club, Crown Aspinalls London and Crockfords Club.
Between them, they contribute around £150m a year in tax to the Treasury, as well as generating £188m for London’s GDP and at least £120m in additional tourism spend in the capital.
Michael Dugher, chief executive of the Betting and Gaming Council, has written to Mr Sunak calling on the Government to “act swiftly” to protect the casinos from closure and help London drive the UK’s economy recovery following the Covid-19 lockdown.
Casinos across England finally re-opened again on 15 August following the Covid-19 lockdown after a high-profile campaign by the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).
The eight high-end venues, which are all in London, cater to the world's high-rollers, who travel to the capital from around the globe to conduct business and to relax, whilst their entourages also boost the UK’s tourism economy with high spend shopping, dining and other leisure activities.
But they are set to remain shuttered at risk of permanent closure unless the Government modernises the law, which effectively forces big spenders visiting the UK to use cheques in order to be able to play.
Processing those cheques has become increasingly expensive and outdated, and the casinos have called on the Chancellor to let them provide a fully-regulated funds advance facility to players from abroad, to enable them to settle with one transaction at the end of their trip – something they are currently barred from doing.
An easy and minor amendment to Section 81 of the Gambling Act 2005 would allow this to happen and replace outdated cheque transactions, a payment method that is all but assigned to the history books.
BGC boss Mr Dugher said: “The Government is keen to promote Global Britain, so it’s vital that nothing is done which makes it harder to attract foreign visitors to the country.
“We were delighted when casinos were given the green light to open again on 15 August so they could get back to business and play their part in helping the economic recovery.
“It is now essential that the Chancellor acts swiftly to facilitate this small change, which would have a massive impact on the ability of high end casinos to re-open again and to recover their business.
“Cheques are a 20th century payment instrument that is no longer fit for the 21st century customer or the global banking environment but there has to be a suitable replacement for those businesses that, through outdated law, are unable to transact with their customers any other way.
“Our high end casinos are major ingredient in London’s reputation as a ‘go-to’ destination for high spending foreign tourists. This can all help to get the U.K. economy moving again.”