Britain’s amusements, gaming and gambling industries are all dressed up with nowhere to go. The DCMS has launched a working party to determine a roadmap for how tourism is going to drive our economy forward. But bodies such as Bacta and other key industry associations have, oddly, been left out. A simple error or an error of judgement?
The ability of the industry to help fashion the debate and details of the rules relating to the relaxation of lockdown and the return to work, has been significantly reduced, with Coinslot confirming that no trade body or commercial enterprise from the gambling and amusements sectors has been invited to join the Visitor Economy Working Group which sits under the auspices of the DCMS and is part of the roadmap for reopening businesses confirmed by the Prime Minister on 11 May.
This glaring omission is despite the fact that the Working Group , led by the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, specifically lists ‘Arcades’, ‘Bingo’, ‘Casinos’ and ‘Amusements Parks/Funfairs’ among its terms of reference.
The absence of any direct voice from a sector that contributes close to £2bn to UK GDP and supports the employment of 34,000 people is made more unusual by the inclusion of a boutique luxury hotel in Devon, a restaurant in Liverpool and Rabbies Tours, a small group tour company specialising in Scotland.
The Working Group members, which total some 32 trade bodies and businesses, that are arguably closest aligned to the industry are Bourne Leisure, British Beer and Pub Association, Tourism Alliance and UKHospitality.
If there was any doubt as to the importance of the Working Groups and their relevance to the industry, the Task Force website outlines the terms of reference as: “Providing a forum for sector specialist and other experts to help develop guidance, identify and resolve practical, sector-specific guidance-related issues, develop a sector-wide plan for disseminating and implementing guidance, discuss actions and updates arising from the Cultural Renewal Taskforce and give stakeholders the opportunity to put questions and suggestions to Ministers.”
The industry response to the news has been a mix of confusion, anger and resignation. One respected member of the industry said: “Sadly, it shows how gambling is (dis)regarded in the bigger scheme of things. Even our own government department the DCMS don’t recognise our importance.” Another described it as like being left off a wedding guest list and not even being invited to the evening reception, and another posed the rhetorical question “Who is present to argue our case, to correct the mistakes, to challenge the prejudice and to influence discussions?I will tell you who – absolutely no one.”
The DCMS press office was invited to provide a comment 48 hours prior to the Coinslot deadline.