British bookmaker Ladbrokes claimed more than £100 million from the furlough scheme, although the rapid growth registered in online gambling has been compensating for the losses registered as a result of the lengthy retail betting shop closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to accounts published on January 6th, the company claimed a total of £57.5 million in 2020, while the BBC reported that a further £44 million were claimed by Ladbrokes in 2021.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the parent company of the bookmaker – Entain – has actually managed to increase its revenues thanks to the strong online growth. Entain explained that the money helped it protect 14,000 jobs and is currently under review.
Reportedly, the companies that claimed the largest amounts of furlough money were the companies that faced the most negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, including a sweeping decline in revenue – airlines, leisure groups, retail shops, pubs, and restaurants, etc. Ladbrokes, which is currently the biggest betting shop operator in the UK with a total of 2,845 betting premises operating under the Ladbrokes and Coral brands, definitely stands out in the list of operators that took advantage of the Government’s furlough schemes.
Ladbrokes Had the Legal Right to Claim the Furlough Money from the British Government
As mentioned above, although the Ladbrokes- and Coral-branded betting shops across the UK were forced to close for large periods in 2020 and 2021, the popular sports betting labels were able to continue operation online. Their parent company Entain has a large online gambling business, so customers who were unable to physically go and place wagers in the company’s premises during nationwide lockdowns preferred to bet on its websites and mobile applications instead.
In other words, despite lockdowns, Entain was unable to keep its 2020 revenues pretty much the same as the ones on the previous year at £3.6 billion, with the company even being able to record a £114-million profit. According to reports, its revenues increased by 8% during the first 9 months of 2021. Apart from its domestic market operations, Entain also benefits from the stable growth of online betting in the US through its joint venture with MGM Resorts – BetMGM.
Latest reports say that Ladbrokes still made a large furlough claim, although its financial performance remained stable over the Covid-19 pandemic. The account reports for Ladbrokes Gaming and Betting Ltd, a division of Entain, show that the company claimed furlough worth £57.5 million in 2020. As mentioned above, BBC also found that a further £44 million in furlough were claimed by the company in 2021, taking the overall amount to £102 million.
An Entain spokesperson revealed that the furlough scheme was a practical policy intervention, as it was helpful for the company, especially in terms of keeping more than 14,000 retail employees on full pay. The company’s representative further noted that the economic outlook may be improving, but it is still far from certain, so the gambling giant’s Board would continue to keep the situation under review.
It is important to note that despite facing some criticism, Entain is legally entitled to claim the Government’s furlough scheme money, so it did not do anything illegal when making such claims or keeping the money it received by the authorities. Another British gambling giant – William Hill – decided to return £24.5 million of furlough money in August 2020 after issuing reports of strong post-lockdown recovery.