14,000 Entain Staff Paid £41M Furlough Despite Profit Surge

The Guardian reported recently a HM Revenue & Customs disclosure cited Ladbrokes owner Entain claimed £41M furlough money during December 2020 and January 2021 for 14,000 staff members after 3,000 of its high street outlets closed due to the pandemic restrictions.

A surge in Online Activity

Despite the pandemic restrictions and the shop closures, Entain saw a rise in online activity as betting revenue rose. The end-of-year financial accounts disclosed despite the impact the pandemic had caused it was counterbalanced by £500 million in increased revenue due to the surge in online activity.During the same time period, the Guardian reported Entain invested in consultancy company CT Group for lobbying efforts while claiming between £10 and £25 million of taxpayers’ money. The consultancy company contributed to creating the Players Panel, which represents gamblers’ opinion on draconian measures which the government and lobbying groups could impose as the ongoing review of the Gambling Act 2005 rumbles on.

Furlough Paid Back

Meanwhile, William Hill decided to pay back the claimed furlough money after online profits rose due to the surge in online activity. Last August William Hill paid back the claimed furlough money after a ‘strong recovery’ after sporting events resumed and shops reopened, they said, “In light of this positive trading environment, the board feels it is appropriate to repay the furlough funds received, amounting to £24.5m, and we will not be claiming the job retention bonus.”Entain said in a statement, “The furlough scheme has been a sensible and highly welcome policy intervention that helped us, as one of the country’s largest retailers, to maintain the livelihoods of more than 14,000 retail colleagues on full pay. Whilst the virus is still with us and the outlook, although improving, is still far from certain, the board will continue to keep the situation under review.”During the same time period another leading industry operator Betfred, part of the billionaire Done Brothers corporation claimed between £6 and £12.5m for furloughed staff.

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