Two weeks to go and the industry is getting its case ready for the government’s final review of stakes and prizes. It’s a call to arms.
“We are now approaching the end game and Bacta is close to finalising its response to the Consultation Document,” confirmed John White, Bacta’s CEO.
The UK’s leading trade body for the amusements and gaming industry is ready to fight the battle for a fairer deal on the high street for its members, who felt slighted by the government’s Triennial Review of stakes and prizes,described by some antagonists within the sector as “a waste of time”.
Talking to Coinslot ahead of Bacta’s flagship exhibition in London next week,White was more urbane but no less forceful that change was needed for the businesses within his organisation.
“We will be ensuring all of the arguments are put clearly,forcefully and backed by evidence,” he explained; a comment that will irk both White and his membership, who believed that their arguments and evidence in the preamble to the government’s review offered an overwhelming case in favour of improved limits for the softer gaming side and a tight rein on the gambling bête noire, the FOBT.
But all is up to play for as the consultation period enters its final two weeks,and the prospect of a new and better landscape on Britain’s high streets? Not so, says White, who feels that behind the bluff,little will change if the government opts against a cut in FOBT stake to £2.
“We don’t see there being a massive change on the high street and the reduction in FOBT stake to £2 should not be seen as a panacea or a magic bullet as players behaviour will be complex,” he explained.
“What it will mean is that AGC operators will be able to compete in those areas that they should be competing on, such as service and the quality of the customer experience.”
The battleground, it seems, is for the heart and soul of the vast community that enjoys gaming.
As the toxic debate around FOBTs has shown, the real losers are likely to be the players whose access to entertaining gameplay is will be more restricted.
“Most importantly,” White argues, “I think a stake reduction will help heal the reputational damage caused by FOBTs. There’s no doubt that the industry as a whole has suffered due to the damage caused by FOBTs on the high street.”
One thing is certain amongst all engaged in the industry: the FOBT elephant must either be removed from the room ,or confined within it.
White agrees: “Once the stake is reduced to £2 we can start having some meaningful discussions about how we can move forward and start to repair that damage.That is with all sectors of the gambling industry, including the bookmakers.”
Until then,Bacta and its senior officials are urging every member and those within the industry to lodge their views with the government.The association senses that the more individuals and businesses that voice their opinion, the better the chance for change.