UK: Gauselmann criticizes government

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UK: Gauselmann criticizes government

Paul Gauselmann (86) had actually tried to improve relations between gambling and politics in Great Britain, but the corona crisis has decisively changed the situation: Similar to Germany, the Merkur boss is sharply critical of the British government’s reopening plan. Since gambling halls will not be able to open from April 12th, Gauselmann has even written a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. What arguments does the machine king use to justify his criticism?

Corona crisis causes discontent

In August 2020, Gauselmann had started a political initiative in the UK to inform the country’s politicians about the importance of the legal gambling sector. Since the end of the corona crisis is not in sight and gambling halls have to stand behind in the government’s reopening plans, Gauselmann’s enthusiasm has now apparently turned into discontent.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, the Merkur boss expresses harsh criticism of the reopening plans. Above all, Gauselmann is concerned with the decision that arcades, casinos and bingo halls have been excluded from the list of non-essential retail stores that are allowed to reopen from April 12th.

174 Cashino locations affected

In contrast to betting offices, the named establishments are only allowed to open their doors again from May 17th, i.e. over a month later. Gauselmann calls on the government to re-examine and reconsider the decision. The arcades are very similar to the betting shops in terms of their size and customer turnover, which is why the current decision is extremely disappointing and regrettable.

In Great Britain, the Gauselmann Group, based in Espelkamp in North Rhine-Westphalia, operates 174 locations under the Merkur subsidiary Cashino. According to Gauselmann, the arcades attract fewer customers in comparison who do not stay long. In addition, betting shops would also operate slot machines. One cannot understand the decision to be excluded from the reopening.

Due to the delays towards betting offices, Gauselmann sees himself exposed to a major competitive disadvantage. The German machine king and former VDAI CEO fears that long-term regular customers will drop out, and that the future investments of the Gauselmann Group would be damaged. One is worried and is under enormous pressure. One can understand the concerns of the government, but also guarantee a safe gaming experience under infection protection.

For the first time in the red at Gauselmann

It’s no secret that the lockdowns are hard on the land-based gambling industry. At Gauselmann around 700 amusement arcades across Europe are closed, and almost all 14,000 employees are on short-time work. The latest reports show that Gauselmann, who has so far got through the crisis without dismissals, is also increasingly under pressure. In February, the family-run company reported red figures for the first time in its 63-year history.

The losses were confirmed by a company spokesman: Sales in 2020 fell by a whopping 30 percent compared to the previous year. Not only the gambling hall business, but also the machine manufacturing industry is lagging behind. The situation would put a heavy strain on the Mercury owner’s reserves. In 2019, external sales were 2.5 billion euros and internal sales even 3.4 billion euros.

The corona crisis is now having such a serious impact that, according to Gauselmann, red numbers can no longer be avoided for the first time. The 75 percent aid promised by the state for November and December was severely limited. In order to get adequate help, one has to fight against a bulge of bureaucracy. There is currently no improvement in the situation.

Criticism also of the German government

In a statement, Paul Gauselmann also criticized the lockdown policy of the Federal Republic: the closings were completely undifferentiated and disproportionate. It is irresponsible that no consideration is given to the peculiarities of gambling halls. There is enough space available in the facilities. Compliance with a minimum distance of two meters is guaranteed.

In addition, mask requirements and hygiene regulations are observed. However, politics still make sweeping decisions, an analysis of the facts would not take place, according to the Merkur boss. For the future, one would like to have political insight, because people’s joy in playing would by no means decrease under Corona, which the sales after the first lockdown had also proven. It remains to be seen whether the governments will react to Gauselmann’s arguments.

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