BGC Warns Against New Immigration Rules

The Betting and Gaming Council has warned that the UK’s casino industry could be negatively impacted by the new immigration points based system due to be brought in next year. The gambling standards body stated that the new measures could disrupt the ability to hire staff with specialist skills, such as croupiers. The casino industry currently relies on a large proportion of staff moving to the UK from overseas for work.

A croupier deals out cards to players at a casino.

70% of croupiers employed by UK casinos are from overseas. ©Javon Swaby/Pexels

UK Casinos Rely on Overseas Croupiers

Concerns about how Brexit will affect the UK gaming industry have been raised ever since the results of the EU referendum were announced in 2016. After many years of back and forth, Brexit has now come to pass, and a number of these concerns are becoming a reality.

The Betting and Gaming Council has highlighted the negative impact that incoming immigration rules could have on UK casinos. At present, it is estimated that more than 70% of the UK’s croupiers come from overseas. Under new immigration legislation these croupiers would not qualify to be allowed to work in the UK.

The government’s new immigration points based system is currently set to be brought in on January 1st 2021, despite widespread criticism. The new rules mean that many economic migrants who would previously have been allowed into the UK will no longer qualify as having the right qualifications, skill or professions.

The effect of the new, stricter immigration rules will be felt in many aspects of the UK’s economy, such as in hospitals, universities and private businesses. The BGC noted that, alongside casinos, tourism and the nighttime economy would be negatively impacted. Staff shortages due to a lack of skilled workers could be a tough issue for companies to cope with.

Casinos are an important part of the leisure economy, attracting millions of visitors from the UK and abroad every year. In terms of tourism, casinos are particularly vital in bringing visitors from China and the Middle East who proceed to spend their money in Britain.

“Casinos are a hugely important part of our country’s leisure industry attracting thousands of wealthy tourists to the UK from around the world. In order to remain competitive our casinos need the best croupiers with great arithmetic agility.”

In the UK, casinos directly employ more than 14,000 people. On top of this, another 4,000 jobs are indirectly connected to casinos. Britain’s casinos raise a significant amount in tax revenue annually. This is estimated at a sum of around £300 million each year.

It is true that most casinos are located in London, but their economic benefit is felt throughout the UK. The BGC has highlighted that “casinos provide £145m of Gross Value Added (GVA) to the North of England”. UK casinos generate £463 million in total GVA, which goes up to £757 million when indirect and induced GVA is accounted for.

“While we are determined to grow the number of UK croupiers through the NVQ in Gaming Operations available at many colleges and through the world class Nottingham Casino Academy, we need the ability to employ the best from around the world.”Michael Dugher, Chief Executive, Betting and Gaming Council

BGC Chief Executive, Michael Dugher added that “Using arbitrary skills or salary requirements will damage highly successful parts of the UK economy”. The BGC is not alone in its criticism of the new measures. The Federation of Small Businesses has also warned that hospitality and tourism will be hit hard.

The UK now has less than a year to meet it’s own demand for skilled croupiers. While there are already some training schemes in place, it seems an insurmountable task given the time frame. Dugher has called on the Government to allow some exemptions for casinos and the hospitality industry, to prevent damage.

The Betting and Gaming Council is the industry’s association, which represents 90% of the UK’s online casinos, land-based casinos and betting shops. It is an industry that brings in over £14 billion to Britain’s economy and provides jobs for over 100,000 people. The BGC’s role is to champion the industry by setting high standards.

How Strict Are New Rules?

The new immigration system comes as the UK puts in place it’s own rules after leaving the European Union. The proposed points based system means that workers coming into Britain from Europe will need secure enough points by fulfilling set criteria. As the rules are stricter, many who could previously work in the UK will no longer be able to do so.

Home Office Secretary Pritti Patel unveiled the new immigration policy in February. In a press release, the government claims that the new system will “open up the UK to the brightest and the best from around the world”. In reality, the number of low skilled migrants, classified as earning salaries of under £23,000, will be capped.

Overseas workers will need to earn at least 70 points to be eligible to come to the UK. These consist of a job offer, application to a skilled job and an existing salary of over £25,600 – each worth 20 points. On top of this, the ability to speak English is worth 10 points.

The new immigration rules will bring to an end freedom of movement, as the UK switches to a single global system. In the biggest shake-up of the British labor market in decades, highly skilled workers will be welcomed as low-skilled workers are tuned away.

“UK businesses will need to adapt and adjust to the end of free movement, and we will not seek to recreate the outcomes from free movement within the points-based system. As such, it is important that employers move away from a reliance on the UK’s immigration system as an alternative to investment in staff retention, productivity, and wider investment in technology and automation.”

This is not the only headache that Brexit has caused for the UK’s gambling industry. Last October, the Government issued a no-deal Brexit checklist, offering advice to businesses and employees who will be affected by changes as we leave the European Union.

As well as Europeans working in the UK, a large number of UK citizens working in the gambling industry in Europe will be affected. Many British operators run their headquarters in Gibraltar, so as to be closer to the European market. However, these employees are already facing problems with border crossings and legislation.

The gambling industry will need to review and update a large portion of its business practices, from how it imports hardware to accessing personal data to sorting out employee visas. Now that Brexit is officially happening, time is ticking and the gambling industry will have to adjust urgently.

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