Gauselmann Group CEO Criticises Government Over Lockdown Roadmap

Lockdown Roadmap AGC

The CEO of the Gauselmann Group has criticised the British Government over its lockdown roadmap.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced England’s roadmap out of lockdown, under which betting shops and non-essential retail reopen on April 12th. Unfortunately, adult gaming centres, casinos and bingo halls will be required to wait until May 17th to reopen.

Gauselmann Group CEO Paul Gauselmann has written to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, highlighting his concerns regarding the delayed reopening of adult gaming centres.

As reported by iGamingBusiness, Gauselmann called for a review of the roadmap while describing his “disappointment” and “regret” over the British Government’s decision and explaining his confusion over the delayed reopening as he claims both betting shops and adult gaming centres as similar.

“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.”

Further on in the letter, Gauselmann stated that the delay could harm future investment planned by the group, which owns the Cashino chain of adult gaming centres, of which there are more than 170 across the United Kingdom.

Gaulsemann said in his letter: “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.”

Betting and Gaming Council Criticised Scottish Government’s Lockdown Roadmap

Meanwhile, the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) has criticised the Scottish Government over its lockdown roadmap. Under current plans, hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen under level two zones, while casinos can only reopen in level one zones.

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, BGC Chief Executive Michael Dugher criticised the “baffling” decision to delay the opening and stating there’s no scientific reason for “singling out” casinos that have spent millions in making themselves Covid-secure.

In the letter, Dugher said: “The singling out of casino businesses within the hospitality sector for not being able to open in Level 2 areas, alongside the rest of their peer group, is baffling and, on an evidence-based approach, without justification.

“Our casino members in Scotland are at a complete loss as to understand the decision not to allow them to reopen alongside venues such as pubs, restaurants, cinemas, bingo halls and high street arcades. Please can you explain the scientific basis of this decision?”

He continued: “I appeal to you to pay heed to the compelling evidence. When parts of the country return to level 2 status, casinos should be allowed to open alongside other hospitality venues. These businesses deserve to be treated with parity and fairness. All they expect is an equitable approach to hospitality, based on the highest quality evidence that exists.

“Ordering the continued closure of casinos in Level 2 areas in Scotland would be a needless blow for the 700 hardworking men and women that they employ, as well as economically self-harming, given the £30 million in tax they pay per year in normal times.”

Dugher ended the letter by pointing out that, unlike other businesses, casinos in Scotland have been denied business rates relief, saying: “It will come as no surprise to you that taking all these circumstances into account the casino operators in Scotland are currently seeking advice in the event that casinos are singled out contrary to the clear evidence.

“At the very least, if casinos are not put into Level 2 this week, they should as a matter of urgency be given a clear date for reopening.”

UKGC Address Football Index Controversy

Also in the last week, the UK Gambling Commission, which has been heavily criticised over its supposed delayed response in the collapse of Football Index, which went into administration earlier this month after its operating license was suspended by the Commission.

In the midst of the controversy, the UK Gambling Commission has stated that it was warned of Football Index in January 2020 and was told it was an “exceptionally dangerous pyramid scheme under the guise of a ‘football stock market'” and that action was needed to “alert and protect their users”.

The website, which launched in 2015, allowed users to purchase “shares” in footballers which would earn “dividends” over a three-year term of the user’s bet. Around the time of the website’s launch, the wider gambling industry expressed concern that the operator’s business model is “unsustainable”.

In an exclusive report, the Guardian has revealed that it’s seen a document sent to the Gambling Commission in early 2020 analysing Football Index’s business model and highlighting what the author believed to be numerous flaws.

According to the Guardian, the report suggested that Football Index led to “unparalleled levels of irresponsible gambling behaviour from 10,000s of users misled into believing they are investing rather than gambling”.

The report also pointed out that Football Index’s liabilities increase every time a share is purchased, and in January 2020, its liabilities exceeded £1 million a month, with the report stating: “The only way the company can afford this long term is through the constant sale of yet more new shares to new users alongside a constant churn in positions”.

The report says that Football Index’s operations, which were described as giving a “false sense of security”, leave the company “vulnerable [to] and destined for a bank run in which the first ‘X’ per cent of users manage to get some money out before the system collapses and the remainder lose everything.”

The report on Football Index concluded: “Not only is this incredibly dangerous in that significant and life-altering sums of money are at stake and risk, but the perceived security of the platform is inducing users to shift their capital from genuine investment vehicles (Bank savings, ISAs, and stocks) into it, giving the hope and promise of constant high returns.”

Football Index has ceased operations and has gone into administration. It’s UKGC license, and BGC membership have both been revoked, and a group of bettors affected by the company’s closure have reportedly begun legal action.