Delayed AGC reopening sees Gauselmann question UK investment

Rank Group Plc has praised the UK Government's White Paper on gambling legislation, stating that the long-awaited review has reached the objective of striking the right balance between “consumer freedoms and choice on the one hand, and protection from harm on the other.”

Paul Gauselmann, founder and CEO of the Gauselmann Group, has inked a personal letter to Boris Johnson conveying his “disappointment and regret” at the government’s economic reopening timetable.

With copies also sent to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, and Kwasi Kwarteng, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, the move come with adult gaming centres omitted from the list of high street businesses permitted to open in April. 

Highlighting the decision, which permits licensed betting offices to open on April 12, Gauselmann argued that it “is not conducive to the principles of fair competition for which Great Britain traditionally stands.”

Requesting a review of the decision, the letter sets-out the group’s ongoing commitment to the UK, which it says has seen the investment of almost half a billion pounds (£450m) with an employee base of over 2,000.

The letter reads: “We are ready with optimism and financial strength to work with the government to support the recovery,” confirming that the business can reopen safely without creating any new risks of infection.

Focussing on the issue of unfair competition, Gauselmann explained: “Our venues attract comparably small numbers of customers who do not stay for long. 

“For this reason, we cannot understand the decision which permits betting shops to open even though they operate the same gaming machines. This puts us at a great competitive disadvantage and we fear a long-term loss of loyal customers as a result.”

Underlining the organisation’s commitment to social responsibility, the letter adds: “Our business has been audited by the Global Gambling Guidance Group against its international standard. Such a commitment provides a strong basis for our plans to invest in the UK and grow. 

“However, I am very concerned about the stress this recent decision places on our business and whether we can continue to invest as we had planned. We appreciate the government has to make very difficult decisions, but cannot see why, in terms of infection protection, entirely unproblematic businesses should be prevented from opening.”