The low stake gambling industry faces being caught between a rock and a hard place, with machine players squeezed by the legal restriction which currently prohibits the use of debit cards on gaming machines and a programme of closures which has seen one in eight banks and cashpoints close during the pandemic. Jason Frost highlights the dilemma.
According to official data covering 19,000 banks and 60,000 ATMs, 12 percent of cash outlets have been lost since April 2020 leaving inhabitants of some isolated communities having to travel more than three miles to access cash.
With the problem disproportionately impacting the elderly, national charity Age UK believes the rise in the number of bank closures and redundant ATMs is an acceleration of a prepandemic trend, creating what it refers to as ‘cash deserts’.
The charity’s director, Caroline Abrahams told The Daily Telegraph: “Before the pandemic, the Government committed to legislating to protect access to cash. It (the Government) must move forward with concrete plans -which may well require legislation – to ensure that cash remains readily available.”
Jason Frost, President of EUROMAT, believes the combination of so called ‘cash deserts’ and the prohibition on the use of debit cards, represents a ‘massive problem’ for the industry. He said: “EUROMAT was recently contacted by the European Central Bank regarding the safe and secure use of cash. In its correspondence, the ECB underlined the importance of all retailers continuing to accept cash, particularly as some demographic groups have limited access to other methods of payment.”
He added: “Speaking as a UK AGC operator we need to ensure the industry is able to provide the broadest possible range of payment methods. The forthcoming review of the Gambling Act must be sufficiently flexible to accommodate not just what’s available today but the payments methods of tomorrow and of the day after. Alongside cash and debit cards we must include Apple Pay, wearables and fashion technology. We cannot be faced with the very real prospect of not being able to provide consumers with the payment methods they need and that they expect.”