Government should put the UK’s retail betting sector at the heart of its efforts to boost high street activity after covid, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has said.
The call came as an inquiry by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee into supporting UK high streets after Covid-19 came to a close mid-September. “I really enjoy shopping, but the best trips are those where you can combine browsing your favourite store in the high street, while having some leisure time too,” wrote BGC chair Bridget Simmonds.
“Whether it be a pub, betting shop, cafe or even a swim, that mix of retail and leisure is what makes our high streets work.
After months of forced closures and wary covid-wary consumers, however, “high streets, in my view, will only survive through a mixture of central Government support and intervention and local leadership.”
There are some 6,900 betting shops across the UK employing around 40,000 people, each of them paying taxes to fund the public services. Research undertaken before Covid struck found that 82 percent of betting shop customers visited one at least once a week, and that 89 percent of those customers went on to visit other shops on the high street.
“That is real money going into the pockets of shopkeepers the length, breadth of the country, helping to build up and maintain local economies. At a time of national crisis, their contribution is more important than ever.”
The BGC hopes the committee would look at business rates, “which have been due for fundamental review for some years.”
“This summer has also seen an important debate on high rents and intractable landlords, which is another area the committee members should look at,” Simmonds added.