Support and understanding of the industry from a local legislator? No, it’s not a joke – as one Bolton councillor goes on the record.
A prominent Bolton councillor and licensing commissioner has spoken out in support of AWP machines in pubs – following the unanimous decision by the regional committee to approve a new Cat C placement.
Councillor Nick Peel sat on the committee which recently approved an application for a third Cat C unit at The Saddle in Horwich – after ruling that operator Amber Taverns had all necessary signage and responsibility measures in place.
“I’m not in favour of curtailing people’s right to have a little flutter,” Peel told the Bolton News.“If you’re putting in £1 at a time the money isn’t haemorrhaging from your pocket – it’s the higher stakes machines that are causing the national debate.”
In an addendum extraordinary from a politician for its understanding of any nuance within the gambling player-base, Peel went on to make a clear distinction between the vulnerable minority and the bulk of innocent entertainment- seekers.
“There’s an issue with addiction to gambling on one side of the argument and harmless fun for people that just want a flutter,” he said.“We have to make sure there’s an understandable difference between the two.”
Of course,when prompted to weigh in with its own view on the matter, good old GambleAware took a tried-and-tested approach of tarring every- one with the same brush.
“All kinds of gambling carry risks,” said CEO Marc Etches .“We hope that all gambling companies and venues where gambling activity is permitted make it clear that there is help and support available.”
It’s the same bludgeoning outlook we’ve come to expect from the regulator’s comrade-in-arms: one that not only carries an implicit skepticism towards the ability of local authorities in gauging operator compliance, but one that also actively overlooks the needs of the player-base.
For it was customer demand which saw Amber Taverns petition for the additional machine – as the popularity of its original two bandits was such that it was causing an over-crowding problem.
Is the narrative, then, a pub-company exploiting hordes of vulnerable punters?
Amber’s operational director Gary Roberts offers a saner explanation.
“It’s just about giving the customers a better choice of machines to engage with during their visit,” he remarked. “Additional machines are installed if the local rep thinks it could do well – they’ve always been popular in good community pubs and many customers use them.”