BGC urges decisive action in plea for ‘urgent change to outdated legislation’


Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been urged to take swift and decisive action to secure the future of London’s high-end casinos, including an amendment to section 81 of the Gambling Act 2005 to change “outdated legislation”.

The eight venues in question, including Les Ambassadeurs Club, Crown Aspinalls London and Crockfords Club, are all located in the capital, employ 1,350 workers, and are said to contribute around £150m a year in tax, as well as generating £188m for London’s GDP and at least £120m in additional tourism spend.

After various casinos across England enacted reopening strategies on August 15, the Betting and Gaming Council warns that the aforementioned eight remain shuttered and at risk of permanent closure at the end of the year.

That is, the BGC says, 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Processing those cheques has become increasingly expensive and outdated, and the casinos have called on the Chancellor to let them provide a fully-regulated funds advance facility to players from abroad. This would enable them to settle with one transaction at the end of their trip, something they are currently barred from doing.

In a media statement it is said that “an easy and minor amendment” to the Gambling Act would allow the “outdated” payment method of cheque transactions to be “assigned to the history books”.

“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,” explained Michael Dugher, chief executive of the BGC.

“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or the global banking environment but there has to be a suitable replacement for those businesses that, through outdated law, are unable to transact with their customers any other way.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 UK economy moving again.”