Comments made last week by Reading councillor Tony Page, as he pushed for deferral on an AGC planning decision, have caused concern among industry stakeholders. Questions have been raised following his suggestion that the proposed arcade would offer machines which allowed wagers of £100 every 20 seconds, the kinds of stakes reserved purely for the FOBTs.
Page – who is the council’s lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport – not only raised a few eyebrows with the inaccuracy of his comments, but also called into question BACTA’s work during 2015 to establish Reading Council as a Primary Authority for coin-op regulation.
“As we do whenever we hear of inaccurate statements about our industry, we will find an opportunity in the next few weeks to explain the correct position.”
However, the trade body’s CEO, John White, has moved to reassure the industry that its arrangement with the local authority extends only to age verification, and that councillors such as Page are not involved in process. However, Page’s work with the Local Government Association (LGA) on its FOBT campaigns will also be put under scrutiny. As White explained to Coinslot, he can expect a call from BACTA in the coming days to clarify his position.
“BACTA is aware of the comments made by councillor Tony Page, whom we have met on a number of occasions and who is the lead for the LGA on its anti-FOBT campaign,” he said. “As we do whenever we hear of inaccurate statements about our industry, we will find an opportunity in the next few weeks to explain the correct position.” Coinslot has contacted councillor Page for comment, but at time of going to press has not received a response.