Councillors in Blackpool have announced an upcoming period of public consultation regarding local gambling regs – but operators like Chris Higgit have thus far been left out of the equation.
A triennial review of policy pertaining to the issuance of gambling licences in Blackpool is to be put out for public consultation – but operators are struggling to find information as to how and when this process will be conducted.
To date, local news media have reported that an updated policy document will contain new proposals regarding local risk factors, area profiles and standards of premises compliance – but beyond these cursory facts, seemingly little is known.
“All I know about it is what I’ve read in the paper,” local FEC operator Chris Higgit told Coinslot. “There’s been no attempt to reach out to either me or any other local industry for that matter – we’ve been trying to get more information on the council’s website but there’s nothing to be found.”
Indeed, the only other word from the council has to been to claim that the process will aim to“highlight the character and challenges in specific areas” of the city – which doesn’t exactly sound like an opportunity for balanced discussion.
“If it’s a forum for public debate,then that can quickly turn into an extremely negative interpretation of gambling providers,” Higgit concurred.“There’s a wider social phenomenon going on, a culture of victimology – where people are unwilling to accept their own shortfalls and take account for their own behaviour. It’s systemic – a mindset that too often leads us down the road of‘ its their fault, not mine.’”
As a family entertainment provider, good practice means Higgit finds himself flying under the council’s radar most of the time – but licensing trials and tribulations he’s seen endured by AGC and casino colleagues have been enough to convince him to add his voice to any future consultation proceeding.
“As it stands, I don’t really have any meaningful contact with the licensing commit- tee – but I’ll make a point to contribute to any discussion in the near future,” he said. “These issues are bigger than gambling: they’re about our societal outlook,and individual culpability – and I think that point needs to be pressed.”
And Blackpool will clearly benefit from opinions of the likes of Higgit; Blackpool’s entire economy is based on gaming and hospitality and the last thing it needs is a populist response stirred by the anti-gambling lobby that could thrust its treasury into freefall.
Last week Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s new £16.25m ICON rollercoaster was voted as one of the best new coasters in Europe and Valhalla was named one of the continent’s best water rides at the European Star Awards.