David Williams comments on UK retail casino struggles

With more land-based casinos closing each year, Rank Group’s David Williams discusses the importance of balancing out White Paper policies to protect venues.

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David Williams, Rank Group Director of Public Affairs, released a statement today through the Betting and Gaming Council, discussing the potential effects of the White Paper on retail casinos in the UK.

When the White Paper was released on 27 April, it outlined a number of potential changes that would need to be discussed over the next few months.

These would include changes on how fast certain casino machines can operate, the number of machines that a physical casino could legally provide and the chance to offer electronic payment methods.

However, Williams stresses the importance of balancing out the research into these matters against the current retail betting landscape of the UK.

“As we look to protect jobs, generate tax receipts and better meet the needs and expectations of today’s customers we don’t have time on our side” - David Williams

The number of physical casinos across the UK has dropped from 160 a few years ago, to 119 today.

Out of the 51 Grosvenor-branded venues, approximately a quarter of these are reportedly loss-making.

Williams explained: “It has been well-documented how the casino industry has been slow to recover from the economic ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current cost of living crisis, alongside inconsistent numbers of overseas travellers coming into London, have combined to hit leisure and entertainment venues like ours harder than most.

“We are chomping at the bit to secure the modernisations that will help us to address these challenges.

“At the same time, we recognise the need for improvements to the player protection landscape and its funding mechanism.”

One of the main pillars of the White Paper was also the statutory levy, which land casinos would be required to contribute towards.

Williams concluded: “However, the sequencing of these additional cost burdens must be seen within the context of the modernisations that are also coming our way.

“If casinos are hit with extra costs before they are able to benefit from the upside of the modernising proposals, it will lead to more venues going to the wall.

“That is in nobody’s interests as customers would be displaced, RET contributions would be reduced, jobs would be lost and one of the key tenets of the White Paper, namely the need to ensure “that there is an equitable approach to the regulation of the online and the land based industries”, would be instantly undermined.”

The first four consultations of the Gambling Act White Paper were published last month.


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