With over £2 billion of aid money returned to companies that benefited from the pandemic, MPs have called on betting companies in the UK to do the same.
Lawmakers say bookmakers should return relief funds
Lawmakers in the UK have called on bookmakers to return tens of millions of pounds they received in aid funds following the introduction of blockchain measures . The calls come as part of a wider move by some sectors to return the bailout funds they received from the government, and the total number of funds returned has now reached over 2 billion pounds from the parties who ultimately benefited from the pandemic.
Numerous media outlets have picked up the news, citing examples of companies that have managed to survive the blockade on their own and not seek financial incentives from the government. This comes at a time when the government is embarking on a new review of the Gambling Act 2005. In order to update the legal framework for the digital age.
Companies such as GVC, which recently changed its name to Entain, have 3,300 shops in the UK and are eligible for £20 million in relief this year. Smaller companies such as Flutter, which owns around 350 betting shops in the country, will receive another £4.8 million.
Leader of the Blue Collar Conservative Group Esther McVey called on the gambling industry to act respectfully and return government payments as many others would do because they simply don't need it.
She was joined by a Labour MP Carolyn Harris, who has been one of the most vociferous critics of gambling operations in the country and chairwoman All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Harms and who argued that the gambling industry should show good faith and send the money back so it can be redirected to bars, restaurants and other places that are on the verge of collapse.
Does the argument make sense?
There is a widespread perception in the media that the bookmakers have benefited hugely from the lockout by moving to an online operation, which is now part of an ongoing review and should therefore return government bailout funds.
According to one article published in This Is Money, GVC has raised its profit forecast to £780 million, citing strong online activity as the reason. However, the article fails to mention that GVC is a global operator with operations in many markets outside the UK.
The article mentions Flutter's own success in terms of revenue, with results increasing by a third between July do September .
Bookmakers are under a lot of pressure in the UK. The new review, which is now being debated nationally, is likely to deal with a number of sensitive and important issues such as loss limits, maximum online betting limits and bonuses.