Off The Record: What do you expect for £37 billion – something that actually works?

Off The Record Comment Test Trace Bet365 Gambling Industry
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Why picking fights with Team England is a stupid move even by the standards set by the Home Secretary, the disproportionate impact of inflation on our hyper-regulated, micromanaged industry and why is a British gambling industry billionaire funding a Van Gogh exhibition at The Courtauld?



I’ve talked about the dangers of inflation before in Off The Record and the spectre of rising prices has not gone away – in fact it’s got a whole lot worse.

The rate for June was 2.5 percent, the Bank of England target is 2 percent and some experts are predicting it rising to 4 percent this autumn.

In the interests of balance other experts are saying that it represents a temporary spike – but the implications are terrible for our industry.

The boss of a haulage company was lamenting the implications for his business stating that he would have no choice but to pass the costs on to his customers in the form of price rises.

Because our prices are in effect set by our regulator, we are one of the only, if not the only sector for whom inflationary pressures come straight off our bottom line. Even the heavily subsidised privately owned train operators have an inflation+ system in place to keep them ahead of price and wage rises.

We have to rely on the so-called triennial which if we are lucky comes round every seven poxy years!

No other sector would be treated with such contempt and disregard.


Singapore plans to stop counting daily COVID cases and instead treat the virus like its’ flu. The argument from the Singaporean health authorities is that they can’t eradicate coronavirus but they can turn it into something that’s much less threatening to the general public.

I think the UK government could learn something from an approach that reduces the fear factor amongst the population.

Instead of counting infections in a world in which immunisation has (largely) broken the link with serious illness the real measures should be hospitalisation rates, the numbers admitted to intensive care and ultimately the death rates.

If the predictions of 100,000 infections a day are accurate that could succeed in putting the fear of God into the country and paralyse the leisure and entertainment sector.

The majority of infections are taking place in the young, the symptoms are unpleasant but rarely life threatening – so let’s not overstate the dangers and treat infections as if they are deaths statistics.



The billionaire online gaming entrepreneur, Denise Coates, is funding a British gallery that’s planning what has been described as a once-in-a-generation Vincent Van Gogh exhibition.

As part of her support for the Arts Ms Coates will have her name etched on galleries at The Courtauld.

For a brief moment I thought this was a bold and imaginative marketing initiative to take the Bet365 brand into previously unchartered territory – an interesting coming together of high and low culture.

But the more I read the more confident I became that this is in fact more of a bid for personal respectability rather than brand recognition.

Bet365 is a fantastic success story but there are still a significant number of social commentators who still can’t come to terms with the fact that one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs earns her £421m salary from gambling – whatever next?



A number of newspapers and media channels are predicting that Boris Johnson is getting cold feet on the much-trumpeted Freedom Day but hasn’t got the balls to delay it because of the terrible dent to credibility that would cause.

Instead, they argue, he will press the green button but as infection numbers soar – as they surely will – he will lose his nerve and claw back most if not all of what he’s given away.

I don’t agree with this analysis. Providing we don’t encounter a vaccine resistant variant I believe he will stick to his guns and get the economy moving.

The level of debt is so high and the casualties of lockdown are beginning to receive the coverage that’s been denied over the last 16 or so months.

My arcades, my staff and my customers are all geared up for the 19th and I honestly don’t see us being told to shutter them due to the virus.



The England national football team may have fallen at the final hurdle but they earned a lot of credit en route to their first final in a major tournament since you know when.

Perfect grounds for public figures who are already on thin ice to keep their distance and resist the temptation to enter into a Twitter skirmish with individuals who are to be quite honest far more popular.

Boris Johnson, who has already had to back down against the nation’s favourite footballer Marcus Rashford has now earned the wrath of former England international, successful business man and respected Sky broadcaster Gary Neville. In addition, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel has been taught a lesson via Twitter by the Millfield educated Aston Villa central defender Tyrone Mings.

Although all of this is damaging to the Conservative Party it also says a lot about Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party which has been replaced as the official opposition by a small group of current and former footballers.



The government won’t admit it but people are deactivating the oh so expensive Test and Trace app in their thousands on a daily basis.

Getting pinged and subsequently isolating for ten days is so damaging for people who are paid by the hour and the consequences for businesses can be dire.

A restaurateur was explaining how two of her chefs were pinged forcing her to close one of her three restaurants for ten days. In our industry I know of arcades that are being forced to close due to Test and Trace induced staff shortages. People are demanding a better system but what do you expect for a mere £37 billion ‘investment’ over two years?

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