Bet365 has promised to pay all staff in full until at least August after the sporting calendar was decimated by the coronavirus outbreak. Bookmakers have taken a massive hit due to the lockdown, as the football and racing seasons have been suspended and many major events have been scrapped. Yet Bet365 has assured its staff that there will no job losses over the next five months and that staff with receive their pay as part of a multimillion-pound support package. The Stoke-based firm employs 4,600 staff and it made an operating profit of £767 million last year. “In times of uncertainty it was essential that we reassured our people of the commitment we have to them and the wider community,” said the firm. “They’ve been instrumental in our success and will continue to be so throughout these troubling times and beyond, when normality will inevitably be restored.”
Online casinos are enjoying a roaring trade as punters switch from sports betting to casino games. 888 Holdings reported a significant increase in customer activity across its casino and poker services, but it warned warned that 888 Sport is likely to suffer as a result of cancelled events worldwide. “In the event of a prolonged period of global macro-economic uncertainty, it is possible that consumer spending across the group’s online gaming product verticals may also become impacted,” it said. However, 888 als9 revealed that daily revenue was up 18% year-on-year in 2019, causing shares to spike. Sports betting only accounted for 16% of its turnover in 2019, so it could be better placed than its rivals to thrive in the current climate and ride out the economic headwinds. 888 Holdings delayed the publication of its full-year results for 2019, after the Financial Conduct Authority requested all listed businesses observe a two-week moratorium on the publication of preliminary financial results amid the COVID-19 crisis.
British MPs have urged online gambling companies to impose a temporary £50 per day betting cap on punters during the coronavirus lockdown. Online operators are heavily promoting online casino games, virtual sports and obscure sporting events like marble racing, table tennis, Japanese baseball and Belarusian football during the empty sporting calendar. “We are deeply concerned that as we go deeper into this crisis, more and more people will turn to online gambling as a distraction,” wrote Labour’s Carolyn Harris, the Conservatives’ Iain Duncan Smith and SNP MP Ronnie Cowan in a letter to industry trade body the Betting & Gaming Council. “If the industry were to self-impose a daily limit of £50 … it would be a clear demonstration that the industry is willing to act responsibly and do what they can to protect society and peoples’ finances, at this dreadful time.”
However, some punters have struck rich during the coronavirus lockdown. One woman in Yeovil staked £8 at Paddy Power on the Dynamite Riches online slot and walked off with £1.36 million. “This is a Yeo-mazing win for our winner, who has netted over a million quid on Paddy Power Games,” said Paddy Power. “It’s a good time to get some great news and we hope she treats herself to something nice. Well played.” Despite a lack of familiar football action, one punter chanced a hand with a 10p acca in seven club friendly games, including FC Chita v Kuban Holding and Ljungby IF Women v Alvesta Golf Women, at Ladbrokes. Her 10p bet landed a profit of £1,094.74, defying odds of 10,000/1.